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Vivo ad row: Is it time to relook at the pitching process?

Experts believe the pitching process of brands and their media agencies is full of anomalies. The Bombay High Court order on the Ogilvy-Vivo case has also brought the pitching process under the scanner. speaks to experts to find out what’s wrong with the existing system and the way forward

Most leading agencies get a large number of clients’ briefs every day. These briefs are floated in the market by brands and their media agencies but a lot of times no work is awarded after creative agencies make their pitches.

Also Read: Vivo ad row: Never plagiarised, have enough talent and awards to prove our worth, says Dentsu Impact on Ogilvy Lawsuit

Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas, said the pitching process currently being followed is highly abused.

Also Read: Vivo ad row: Has Ogilvy set a precedent for creative industry to call out plagiarism?

 “Agencies are called for pitches and many a time there is no outcome. Agencies go with all the sincerity, putting in a lot of time— there is a cost for that time, there is passion and emotion of the people who worked on the pitch. And you find that either it was fixed or there was no outcome of it; they were just fishing for ideas,” Tandon added.

He suggested that the Ogilvy case could be a watershed for the industry and it must relook at the ongoing pitching process.

“We are seeing deterioration in the whole pitch process and that’s one of the reasons why it is time that we really need to have a conversation. Ideally, this kind of things could be resolved through a conversation, I think Ogilvy would have tried to have a conversation with the client but it didn’t get resolved,” Tandon added.

An executive from a leading content agency said they receive 10 briefs on an average every week and it’s mostly brands fishing for ideas to implement them on their own.

Ambi Parameswaran, Founder,, said the Ogilvy case looks like that Vivo was just fishing for ideas and wasn’t really interested in getting the agency on board to implement it.

"I think Ogilvy was given a number of signals that they had the business. Multiple meetings were held and scripts discussed. And then things go cold. You wake up one day to see what you presented, in some form, being released as an ad by the same client by a different agency. I am not sure if the agency, which is a large reputed agency, was even aware of the foreplay the client had been having with Ogilvy,” said Parameswaran. 

Tandon suggested that because there’s a massive effort that goes into ideation, the brands must pay agencies a pitch fee.

“Brands should hardly call three to five agencies for its pitch and pay a pitch fee to the agency because the agency people invest time and mind in it. Our resource is our people’s time and senior people work on pitches,” he added.

Brands should be upfront about the worth of business. “This is the sorest point in pitching. Agencies pitch, they win and then we get to know that the business was never worth pitching. Brands should fix the value of the business so that agencies can pitch with their eyes open and not get shocked after three months of pitching several rounds that the business was worth it,” Tandon said.

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