The AAR Group, an independent UK registry service for marketers seeking to appoint a communications agency, has joined the growing clamour for marketers to pay a 'pitch fee'. It also advocates that the two sides agree a specialized pitch contract.

Says AAR director Martin Jones: " The pitch contract could include agreeing to pay toward the cost of the pitch, naming other agencies and not adding to the list, giving feedback on the pitch and setting a time limit for a decision.” Such a contract, argues Jones, "would ensure that clients really think through the pitch process.”

His proposal follows last week's call by Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, who urged agencies to resist what he called "widespread exploitation" by clients [WAMN: 24-Mar-04].

But, said Pringle, a contract of the kind advocated by the AAR, although a "great idea", would require the backing of the entire agency industry plus that of the IPA and its clientside counterpart, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.

“If the AAR wanted to introduce its proposed ‘pitch contract’ as part of the business process, I could see that becoming an added value for them,” said Pringle. “They are far better placed to do something like that than us.” Nonetheless, the IPA has called a meeting in July to address the thorny issue of the pitch process.

Many industry observers, however, doubt advertisers will embrace the concept of a pitch contract. "He who pays the piper, calls not only the tune but the key and tempo as well," commented one grizzled bystander.

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff