In-depth: Covid-19 disrupts creative pitching — how agencies are coping up

Online creative pitching is undergoing a big change as the in-person chemistry and fleshing out of ideas that take between client and agency teams in face-to-face meetings is lacking. talks to experts to figure out how the online pitching process can be made less cumbersome

Shradha Mishra
New Update
In-depth: Covid-19 disrupts creative pitching — how agencies are coping up

Creativity doesn't bloom in isolation. It's a sum of a lot of observation and in-person interaction.

But what happens when creative teams are confined to on-screen interactions and voice calls? How long can they come up with path-breaking ideas when working in isolation?

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Or does it work better for creative minds when they are working in isolation? Without any personal interaction?

As India remains locked down, creative agencies are working from home, and so are brands. All planning for upcoming festival campaigns is being done from home, keeping in mind both Covid and no-Covid scenarios. And pitches are also happening online.

Subhash Kamath

Does it impact creativity? Subhash Kamath, CEO of BBH India, believes a large part of winning pitches isn’t just about the work being presented but also the chemistry between the client and agency teams.

“The body language and energy in the room are just as important as the content itself. A lot of that becomes difficult to establish in a video-conferencing situation, especially in a lockdown situation, where each individual is in a different location,” he said.

The pitches to marketers are usually presented as a team and most of the times, the team presentation requires orchestration. But doing this online and that too sitting in different locations becomes much more challenging. To overcome this, agencies are putting in extra efforts to pre-decide the flow and do online dry runs for smoother presentations.

Amit Wadhwa

A strong idea matters the most, says Amit Wadhwa, President, Dentsu Impact. “While there are challenges in brainstorming, selecting and presenting the ideas, it is certainly still about creativity and we are finding creative ways of arriving at it too,” he said.

Pitches are time-bound and within two-three weeks, one has to mount the entire strategy, creative and other engagement ideas for the pitch. Hence daily interactions are crucial to take stock of work in progress. It's too short a time for agencies to put across a lot of knowledge on the table.

Syed Amjad Ali

As preparation for the pitch, agencies are doing detailed consumer interactions, online. However, the format looks cumbersome and time-consuming. “In the usual face-to-face situation, the findings of the interactions are cohesive, which in an online situation may be a bit artificial because of the format,” says Syed Amjad Ali, President of Mullen Lintas.

Sharing videos as part of the pitch deck is difficult as it buffers because of weakening WiFi network bandwidths. Links to videos are sent in advance to clients, so they have it with them during pitch presentation.

According to Ali, technology and the internet are less seamless and create glitches during pitch meetings. “Internet quality and speed play a very big role in interacting online with potential business partners. One might fall into a situation for certain pitches where they feel had the connection would have been better and easier, they could have put across a point to a new client in person.”

Experts suggest preparing dry runs before the final pitch to ensure everyone knows when to present and when not to and keep basic ground rules set up (like raising your hand to speak) to smoothen the online pitch.

“For structured discussions in the meeting, one needs to be sure who is presenting, who controls the slides on a screen share, while everyone else needs to mute their microphones to avoid unnecessary sounds and noises. If there are many people on the call, even video is muted to avoid consuming too much bandwidth,” said Kamath.

The presentation should look slick and smart and easy to view/read. The video-led presentations will be highly engaging, easy and exciting to watch and ensure internet connection is flawless.

Arjun Kumar

“Demonstrate as much ‘humanity’ in a cold, technology-driven meeting,” said Arjun Kumar, Senior Creative Director, Dentsu India.

“For example: Humour: Both good jokes and bad ones are appreciated in such strange times.

Demonstrate humility/self-deprecation: admit this is unprecedented and you’re doing your best.

Use tech-shorthand for fast-tracking communication and relativity: gifs, memes, emojis.

These will help make sure the person comes through and not just an electronic voice,” he explained.

Nisha Singhania

According to Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder, Director of Infectious Advertising, the entire team presenting the pitch should look presentable to give a good image to the brand.

One should also try to keep reading the client’s expressions. “Stop to check from time to time if they can hear you and agree, before going forward,” she said.

Amit Akali

Amit Akali, Managing Partner, Creative Head, What’s Your Problem, said, “Agencies should not do enough pitching and if pitching then keep a condition of making it interactive and take as much time as you require for your work, especially at this time where we cannot put any work pressure on our employees.”

COVID-19 how agencies are coping up creative pitching