NEW YORK: Many agencies are reported to be rejecting requests for proposals (RFPs) from marketers, citing factors such as low fees, short timelines and vague briefs. 

One such is Vitro, based in San Diego, which has turned down eight reviews this year. Tom Sullivan, CEO of San Diego-based Vitro told Advertising Age this had happened "because timelines are insane and creative asks are unreasonable". He also noted an increasing "lack of transparency" around fees.

"If we're going to put a tremendous amount of energy into a pitch, we can't be in the dark – we have to know the fee potential," he said, adding that "some clients and consultants forget that we're a business, too."

The cost issue was also referenced by Kristin Bloomquist, executive vice president at the Phoenix office of indie shop Cramer-Krasselt, who further mentioned staff morale and the impact of clients' procurement departments, which often treated agencies like a vendor of office supplies.

"There's no time, no respect, no information," she said. "I'm applauding that we are starting to be a little more discriminatory in looking at opportunities."

The Association of National Advertisers echoed that stance. "When there are big budgets involved, especially, some marketers think they can make all sorts of demands," said Bill Duggan, ANA group executive vice president.

"More agencies saying no is a good thing, and if that tide is turning, it's awesome," he added.

The short-termism of Wall Street is another factor in the mix, as Sullivan noted the increasing pressure being placed on CMOs by company boards. "They are playing a short game, thinking "How do I win this quarter?' and that mentality is cascading down to how pitches are done," he said.

"It's about who's the best for an immediate problem they have right now," he continued. "They are looking for a Band-Aid."

Yet another complication is the gap in understanding as regards digital work. "RFPs are sometimes driven by clients with eyes much bigger than their stomachs regarding what it takes to do great digital work," noted Brian Wiener, CEO at digital shop 360i.

"They don't really have the budgets to support their expectation levels," he concluded.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff