Four in ten agencies have no problem with TransferWise's £3k ideas-only pitch

A sizeable number of PR agency leaders disagree that inviting agencies to pitch for a £3,000 idea-only brief to be implement by another firm reflected badly on tech start-up TransferWise.

Ideas-only pitches: dividing the industry (Photo: Thinkstock)
Ideas-only pitches: dividing the industry (Photo: Thinkstock)

More than four in ten agency leaders surveyed by the PRCA were at odds with Tin Man founder Mandy Sharp, who has accused TransferWise's approach of "devaluing the industry".

However, a slightly bigger proportion of the agency respondents were in Sharp's camp:

Question: Do you think that the case of TransferWise launching a £3,000 hunt for a creative idea (that it plans to hand on to another agency to implement) reflects badly on the firm?

Overall response In-house response Agency response
Agree 46.7% 33.3% 48.7%
Disagree 48.9% 66.7% 46.1%
Don't know 4.4% 0% 5.2%

Client respondents, who formed a small proportion of the 51 people surveyed, naturally expressed a greater degree of support for TransferWise.

The survey also showed that one agency claims to have been paid up to £25,000 just for an idea, though the next highest figure cited was much lower at £10,000. The lowest amount was £1,500, but a more typical figure was £5,000.

Many agency respondents answered that they had never been paid on these terms or that remuneration for ideas was wrapped up with implementation, while client respondents simply answered 'don't know' when asked how much they have previously paid purely for an idea.

The survey also posed a more neutral question that took TransferWise and the amount it paid out of the equation:

Question: Do you agree that clients are OK to hold pitches for one-off creative ideas, which are then going to be implemented by another agency (or internally) in the same country?

Overall response In-house response Agency response
Agree 59.1% 66.6% 57.9%
Disagree 36.4% 16.7% 39.5%
Don't know 4.5% 16.7% 2.6%

Among the comments passed on the topic, Shelley Facius, an associate partner at Bell Pottinger, said: "This idea is not new. There used to be and probably still are agencies whose sole purpose is idea generation. As long as the transaction is transparent and all parties know their roles, I don't really see an issue."

Ben Casperz, MD at Claremont, said: "As long as clients are upfront with bidding agencies and respect [intellectual property] of unsuccessful agencies then they can do what they want. Agencies, of course, have the right to decline to pitch."

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