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Number of creative pitches sees a significant rise as economy opens up

Pitches were down in lockdown as the entire country and businesses were coping with new normal. But after people started to take baby steps towards pre-Covid days, the number of pitches has also increased. Experts say the new pitches are majorly for new brands and categories and not much on existing ones

When the lockdown was announced, everyone thought it would not last for more than a month or two, which was a small time in overall biz sense, and so clients put pitches on hold. Now after five months in crisis as things look better than before, businesses are moving in the positive direction.

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Pitches were less in lockdown as the entire country and businesses were coping with new normal, WFH, etc. But ever since the lockdown eased and people started to get back on track, the number of pitches also increased.

In the past, many industry heads had mentioned to us about the changing service model between clients and agencies, which helped both parties to think for each other. The fact that calling a pitch did not become the way for clients this time to look for solutions for navigating the pandemic was huge.

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, agency heads said that in lockdown, most of the clients chose to remain to partner with their existing agencies and work on coronavirus-induced barriers. It led to less number of pitches on existing brands but it also helped agencies in many ways, business and revenue being the primary ones.

Dheeraj Sinha

“We have seen that pattern of shifting of medium and the scope of work remains the same. A lot of our clients have shifted some parts of their work to digital within us,” said Dheeraj Sinha, MD, CSO at Leo Burnett India and South Asia.

Azazul Haque

Azazul Haque, CCO at Mullen Lintas, said that in lockdown and after unlocking, most of their pitches were primarily on new brands and categories and not existing brands that opened pitches for other agencies.

In the lockdown, existing clients didn’t change the partnership, which evolved and kept running with their needs, Haque said. “Most brands have taken a hit and yes, they have gone for an interim change of relationship in terms of the expedition of services from the agency.”

“The market is opening up so more pitches are happening. As of now, not many pitches are around brands that have an existing agency. A lot of new business is coming up for new brands and categories and they are looking for new agencies,” said Haque.

Sinha said genuine pitches for new product launches are happening. Apart from it, many clients are calling pitches to either get services at the maximum possible reduced price or to force its present agency partner to reduce the price.

Arun Raman

Arun Raman, Chief Intelligence Officer at Grey Group, India, said, “In every relationship, in business or life, if you offer delight every day, clients will not flirt and seek relationships outside. This means agencies must be on our A-game all the time. No wonder pitching has gone up during this pandemic. Clients are facing business problems and opportunities never experienced before and are seeking an alternate point of view.”

During the beginning of the lockdown, when essential brands were doing communication campaigns, many non-essential clients on a project basis went on a break.

Haque said starting a new relationship with a new agency on existing brands needs an initial round of conversations, meetings and with both clients and agencies doing WFH, video calls are not the best way to interact from the beginning to initiate a new relationship with an agency while you have an existing one.

“Once things are back to normal, client spends will be back to the pre-Covid levels,” Haque said.

“The industry will return to normal only next year. For this year, everyone is hoping the last quarter to kind of pick up and make up for the loss in revenue,” Sinha said.

Most brands are looking at new strategies and having a relook at agencies. A lot of clients are exploring digital more than ever.

Sinha said a lot of brands were not spending on mass media as the market was not open. Now that the market has opened, agencies are getting a lot of briefs for making television commercials for various clients. “Digital will continue but traditional will get back.”

According to Sinha, the percentage of traditional advertising will be higher but spends on digital won’t be cut. A mass brand that desires to reach across India has to advertise on TV.

Impact of uncertain pitches

Organisations with a weaker client base were severely affected with uncertain pitches in uncertain times. Agencies that have been very traditional in nature, and were not able to pivot digital in a new age, and were carrying unproductive costs found survival very tough. But largely it has helped the ad agencies said, experts.

The on and off phase of pitches helped advertising agencies except for the ones that are new and just been launched, said Haque.

“Old agencies have a client base and so opening up existing business and brands for pitches might have impacted them. Thankfully clients who didn't open account for pitches helped a lot of agencies to get and meet their targets.”

Haque said like in any other industry, in advertising, some people were asked to leave. Less number of pitches on existing brands did impact the overall ad industry but at the same time, it helped the agencies more than affecting them in a wrong way.

“Small agencies that have just come up perhaps might have taken a hit as they were dependent on pitches. Lesser number of pitches would impact new agencies and smaller agencies more than the one that have been there for long,” shared Haque.

“More nimble and greater immunity-driven companies that have a stronger business model will be more agile, future-faced, find easier ways to navigate and survive in a crisis,” Sinha said.

Sinha said clients will also wake up and look for greater efficiencies. They will want agencies that would navigate them throughout the business quickly and cheaply.

“At Grey, our belief is ‘buckle down and double up our efforts so that our clients don't seek solutions outside. But if some other agency's client wants our POV (point of view), we will try our darnest best to take up the challenge’. After all, inorganic growth is what is going to help us get back to some sense of joy once this pandemic-induced sluggishness gets done with,” Raman said.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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