The brief from a client is the foundation of every agency’s final product. The last session of the Good Brief Week was brought to a fitting close with a ‘best-in-class’ example from Molson Coors and its agency BrandOpus on how to create the perfect pitch brief.

The six events across ISBA and IPA’s Good Brief Week saw clients and agencies examining, analysing and sharing briefing best practices. All sessions were rich in audience participation with both agencies and clients sometimes sharing their disquiet and issues when talking about prevailing briefing practices. Agencies highlighted issues including receiving briefs via text message or not getting enough (or sometimes any!) feedback because of the clients’ fear of “giving too much away.” Clients highlighted issues around briefing training and time pressures and achieving agency collaboration across integrated ideas briefs.

Molson 3 - Copy

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CRM – complex by its very nature differs considerably from traditional channels, but it is a business strategy for starters. Applying the same pitch processes, principles and briefing practices as other Comms disciplines does not necessarily deliver the best results. In this session Liz Barnsdale, Managing Director, AIS and David Yates, PlanningDirector, Elvis – both leading CRM specialists – talked the recurring theme of complexity around CRM and the lack of shared language and shared understanding, leading them to the exploration and creation of a simplified CRM briefing structure.


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Steve Jobs. Google. The former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King. Game, the high street retailer for gamers and one of the ‘fastest’ companies in the UK to go from bankruptcy to being re-listed on the stock exchange. What is common between them? A big Organising Idea.
The evening session of Day 3 was led by 101 London and the agency client Game to discuss the concept of the organising idea and its potential to influence a business and its legacy.


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Day 3 of ISBA/IPA Good Brief Week, hosted by Karmarama, was presented by Darren Woolley, a flamboyant Australian marketing consultant who flew in from Melbourne to talk about the myth that is agency collaboration.

I am here to debunk the thought that agencies can work collaboratively, he said and asked the audience to rate their own qualities that are necessary for great collaboration


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Day Two of the Good Brief Week at ISBA HQ on Tuesday morning held the room rapt with the two presenters entertaining the audience with best and worst practice examples of brands using real time marketing, while under fire from stress balls from the audience.

Conor McNicholas, CEO AllTogetherNow
Jon Burkhart, content marketing consultant, founder TBC London, author and speaker

Realtime 3

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The Agency or the Client? Who Owns the Brief? That was the question on the first day of the Good Pitch Week that threw up everything from an 1856 map of Soho to tales of pulling the perfect pint of Guinness to discussions about mediocrity and how not to write boring briefs.

The panel, chaired by Debbie Morrison, ISBA Director of Consultancy, included Ben Rhodes, Director of Customer Marketing at Royal Mail; Direct Line Head of Brand and Marketing Planning, Piers Newson-Smith; Henry Daglish, Managing Director, Arena Media; and Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Strategy Officer Richard Huntington.

Whose brief

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And now the final blog post on the ground-breaking events at the Good Pitch Week by Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business.


Good Pitch Week came to an end with the inside story of Novartis’s 2011 global media pitch. Giving their unique perspectives on this complex and challenging review were Sharon Spina, VP Global Purchasing at Novartis Consumer Health; Tom Denford, founding partner of ID Comms and Matt Blackborn, president of emerging markets at winning agency Starcom MediaVest Group.

Novartis is one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, with 5 divisions operating in 100+ markets, more than 50 brands on their books and $60bn annual sales. There had been no media review since 2004 and across the different divisions and markets there were ongoing contracts in place with 47 different media agencies.

By 2011, with TV effectiveness deteriorating and the need to partner with a digital specialist media agency, Novartis decided to call the global review. The aim? To replace the multiple agencies on their roster with just one media agency across all divisions and markets and move from TV buying to integrated comms planning and media excellence.

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Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business talks about the launch of the media pitch principles.



The IPA and ISBA’s Media Pitch Best Practice Principles were launched at the fifth event of the Good Pitch Week by Cormac Loughran, CMO of Aegis Media; Paul Phillips, MD of the AAR; Richard Woodford, Global Procurement Director – Media at GSK and Debbie Morrison, Director of Consultancy at ISBA. Attendees from all spheres flocked to the breakfast event: media agencies, client side marketers and procurement specialists were all itching to be involved in this refreshing and enlightening session.

In September 2012 clients, agencies, auditors and consultants met to debate whether the model for media pitching was fit for purpose. Following a good deal of forthright discussion a number of key issues were identified ranging from mammoth to minute, immediate to long term. The immediate, micro issues were identified as quick-yet-impactful issues to rectify. The recent IPA Pitch Monitor survey showed that only 64% of media agencies were satisfied with pitches they had been involved in, so clearly there is room for improvement. The result is 6 guiding principles that provide a blueprint for mutually beneficial outcomes and hopefully will improve satisfaction ratings by 10% by June 2014.


The Guidelines:

1. Respect is a two way street

  • Senior clients should be involved in the process consistently and from the start, not just at the final meeting
  • Agencies are given adequate time to explain what they can do
  • The cost of pitching for media agencies can be significant (estimated at £21.6m in total for the last year); to help build mutual respect, clients should consider some kind of monetary recognition or payment in kind
  • No one likes to have their time wasted: agencies that are off-pace should be disregarded early on
  • Agencies should be honest about their bandwidth and drop out if they have doubts about being able to deliver
  • Clients should have a cut-off point for pitches towards the end of the year – no one wants to work over Christmas because they have to respond to a brief in early January
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Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business brings us another fascinating write-up, this time of his own event.

TAONB Nov 2013 6

Ian Priest highlighted the need for adaptation in his keynote presentation on Tuesday and it’s true, times they are a-changing. Agencies are adapting their business models and diversifying their service offerings to become more agile. So you’d think that the same would apply to the way they go about winning new business wouldn’t you? Not according to the research we (The Art of New Business) carried out this year.

It was the 4th event from Good Pitch Week and we were up. Sarah Bradley presented the findings of our 2013 UK client and Global agency research before leading a (very lively) panel debate. Emma Harris, former Director of Sales and Marketing at Eurostar; Steph Brimacombe, Group Marketing Director at VCCP; Zaid Al-Qassab, Managing Director of P&G Beauty and Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers were our special guests and, with help from an eagerly vocal audience, we discussed the issue of whether agencies practice what they preach when it comes to marketing themselves.


Frustrated clients

Our client research, carried out in association with The Marketing Academy, asked senior clients from companies including Kimberly-Clark, GSK, BP Castrol, Adidas, Mondelez International and Phones 4U to share with us their feelings regarding agency new business tactics. Chief amongst the results was the frustration of being bombarded with up to 20 unsolicited agency approaches every day.

Clients need to be able to trust agencies to deliver; they want to see that they can address the specific business problems that keep them awake at night. The generic, mass-mailer style cold approach that many agencies seem to favour fails to deliver on both of these counts.

This avalanche of communication isn’t limited to telephone and email either. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are becoming devalued, such is the volume of approaches clients receive. This avenue is rapidly becoming the new ‘cold call’ and clients told us they’re considering locking accounts to get respite from the onslaught.

The panel agreed. Zaid commented he never responds to cold approaches from agencies unless they’re recommended by his contacts; the expensive mailers that land on his desk either go in the bin or get given to his children to play with.

So if the feeling of frustration in clients is so prolific and we know how clients think agencies should be approaching business development, how do agencies measure up? Our global agency new business attitudes survey (in association with Worldwide Partners, the world’s biggest network of owner operated agencies) revealed some interesting perspectives:

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Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business writes up the procurement roundtable with Sarah Billson, Tickling the Trout.



If you ask the average agency MD to give their thoughts on procurement you’d almost certainly be met with a mixture of fear and loathing accompanied by copious expletives.

Widely misunderstood as a ‘function’, procurement is seen by many as an unwelcome intrusion that exists only to drive costs down. The reality is procurement now plays an increasing role in the agency review process, so it’s in an agency’s interests to understand how best to work together with this group to achieve the common goal of fruitful commercial relationships.

In this, the third event of the Good Pitch Week, Sarah Billson, founder of procurement consultancy Tickling the Trout, and Deputy Commercial Director and Head of Corporate Services Procurement Team at the Foreign Office shared some of the key mistakes agencies make when dealing with procurement and revealed her insights for successful collaboration.


8 Top Tips for Pitch-Perfect Procurement:

1. Procurement are people too!

Nothing irks procurement more than meetings in which agencies lavish attention on the senior marketer in the room whilst they’re treated with disregard. Don’t forget that procurement and marketing are part of the same team and their opinion counts.

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