Agencies avoid government tenders

SINGAPORE: Opaque processes and a lack of feedback are deterring creative agencies from taking part in Asian government tenders for potentially lucrative marketing activities, a new report has found.

R3, the pitch consultancy, interviewed leaders of 13 creative, media and government agencies across the region as well as drawing on its own experience in this area.

"The main reason that marketing and creative agencies chose not to take part in government tenders is the general lack of transparency in the overall process," Goh Shu Fen, co-founder of R3, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

"This could range from an unclear brief with poorly communicated objectives to the lack of clarity in the decision-making criteria," she added.

Agency complaints recorded in the report included the lack of feedback and the bureaucratic approach taken by government agencies.

One respondent spoke of weeks of effort and investment and then hearing nothing until the selection or shortlist was announced.

Another said paperwork was more important than the actual output and claimed their agency had been dropped for failing to complete a form properly.

A particular source of frustration was the tendency for government agencies not to adhere to their own deadlines, despite expecting the agencies to stick to tight turnaround times.

R3 argued that governments needed to make the tendering and evaluation process clear from the outset so that agencies understand how they will be judged.

It also suggested that contracts should run for longer than 12 months in order for agencies to achieve a higher return on their investment.

"The development of the expertise of in-house evaluation teams, the sharing of impartial advice and the actual benchmarking of the tender process against previous such tenders also leads to obvious improvement in the transparency of the entire tender process," said Greg Paull, co-founder of R3.

These problems are not unique to Asia, as R3 noted that agencies worldwide complained of similar obstacles.

Separately, Jeremy Caplin, chief executive of Aprais, a business relationship company, has argued that the quality of work produced is directly affected by the relationship between client and agency.

He told Warc's recent Measuring Advertising Performance conference that good clients get great work from their agencies while poor ones don't. Caplin also highlighted four areas to focus on, including briefing, approval, timing and behaviour.


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