LONDON: One fifth of agencies have reported a negative pitch process this year, with the client brief being the area of most concern a new survey has found.

The quarterly survey on pitching practice from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) was completed by its member agencies with 166 responses received, representing 137 pitches.

The IPA reported that during the first three quarters of the year almost two thirds of respondents (63%) had found the management of the pitch process to be satisfactory, ranging from excellent (10%), through very good (23%) to good (30%).

But a significant 20% of respondents indicated the overall management of the pitch process was poor or very poor. A further 12% thought it was fair while 5% said it was neither good nor poor.

The survey further established those issues that most clearly differentiated good pitches from poor ones, highlighting six areas where the difference in positive perception was in excess of 50 percentage points.

The most pressing of these was the client brief. Of those who reported a negative pitch experience, only 9% said the client brief was well articulated, 60 percentage points lower than those reporting a positive pitch experience.

Interim meetings were also a bugbear, with a gap of 59 points between those reporting positive and negatives experiences in their handling. And there was also a 55 point gap when it came to getting actionable feedback from these meetings.

Only 20% of those reporting a negative experience agreed that the request for information was clear and concise, 55 percentage points lower than those reporting a positive pitch experience. And there was a 53 point divide when it came to agreement that the client's requirement of the pitch was clear.

The involvement of key stakeholders was the final area of major concern, with a 51 point divergence between those reporting negative and positive experiences.

"There is more work to be done in order to ensure best practice and to stop the needless waste created," said Cormac Loughran, CMO at Aegis Media UK and Co-Chair of the IPA New Business and Marketing Group.

The pressures on client-agency relationships were also addressed by Libby Child of Aprais UK in Market Leader. She argued that while it was possible to create a cycle of continuous client-agency relationship improvement, that required "regular, open dialogue, with both teams willing to hear the good, the bad and the ugly – and then doing something about it, together".

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff