“I commit to saying, ‘No’ to clients who ask me to do ridiculous things in pitches.”

Mat Baxter, global chief executive officer of Initiative – an agency within IPG’s Mediabrands unit – was preaching to the choir when he drew the line in the new-business sand at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) 2019 Decisions 20/20 conference held in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

“Just look at the pitching situation,” he continued. “We’re now being asked to work on 120-day payment terms. All these things are crazy.

“Agencies need to flip from being passive to being much more proactive. We need to tackle some big things. Agencies let themselves be punching bags too often. We need a really strong will to fight the fight when it needs to be fought. I don’t necessarily think we do that very well as an industry.”

Baxter’s message to the 4A’s: “Grow some teeth and be like the ANA [Association of National Advertisers],” the client-side trade organization that has pushed for greater transparency throughout the marketing ecosystem.