UK Agencies Draw Up Advertiser Pitch Blacklist

02 February 2004

Some of Britain's top ad agencies are reportedly threatening to boycott advertisers known for poor pitch practices.

According to marketing website, around twenty unnamed shops are compiling an informal blacklist of companies and marketing bosses that have behaved unreasonably in past account reviews.

According to these agencies, there is no shortage of complaints. For example, TBWA/London managing director Jonathan Mildenhall attacked clients who choose an agency then try to renegotiate the fee. "The problem with some companies," he commented, "is that they are shopping in places where they can't afford to buy."

Other major gripes include: not telling the incumbent shop before approaching other agencies; demanding unrealistic pitch deadlines then taking months to reach a decision; and failing to tell review participants about latest developments.

The latter point was highlighted by Wieden & Kennedy managing director Neil Christie. "The Royal Mail shortlist was announced in the press," he declared. "A lot of agencies had spent a great deal of time and effort submitting tenders for that."

Christie is head of the new business group at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, which is drawing up a pitch charter to establish best practice both for advertisers and agencies. This code will cover issues like the timescale of a review, how many shops should take part, and who owns intellectual property rights.

He continued: "It is not unheard of for advertisers to ring up after a pitch saying they don't want to work with the agency, but to ask if they can pinch some of their ideas."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff