Larry Franks’ words follow his agency taking steps to prevent clients delaying payment or cancelling work altogether after a pitch process.
The agency has created a ‘letter of engagement’ binding clients to an agreement that paid work will commence once a pitch is completed if a standard contract is not immediately forthcoming.
Franks, who emphasised he had not had issues with current clients, said: ‘This is about stopping agencies getting strung along, and the need for agencies to be strong enough to stand up for themselves where necessary. It has been received well now that we have started using it – those who want good work can see the benefits.’
Problems highlighted included agencies spending time on unpaid strategising when clients change a brief post-pitch process.
Pitches being exercises in ideas-gathering rather than genuine engagement was also an industry issue, Franks said, emphasising that such practices were still relatively unusual client-side.
Beige’s move comes amid wider agency concerns about overservicing and reports of an increase in work being cancelled by clients post-pitch.
The head of one prominent consumer shop said that on average one in five pitch wins ended with clients cancelling work, adding that ‘the problem has been getting worse’.
Laura Weston, managing partner at Iris PR, said that a letter of engagement could help newer agencies.
However, she added: ‘You need to do the work before a pitch closes. It’s not just for clients to suss you out, but for you to suss clients out.’