Imagine a world with no pitching… it isn’t hard to do

Early disclaimer: this isn't a disgruntled ‘I didn't win a pitch’ piece, but it's time we reimagined the pitch process – the resources, creativity and emotional stress that get poured into it are such a waste.

Let's end this madness of pitching, says Zac Schwarz
Let's end this madness of pitching, says Zac Schwarz

‘Pitching is dumb’

As a colleague recently said: "Pitching is dumb."

If a good agency pitch conversion rate is 60 per cent, then the remaining 40 per cent of resource is, in essence, wasted (obviously with some caveats).

A big brand pitch with, say, four agencies in the running probably means at least 400 hours of combined talent, expertise, passion and potential used up in the process, resulting in 300 hours down the drain.

With all the problems and threats this planet is facing, perhaps the greatest thinkers and creative minds could be spending their time on something better?

This is by no means scientific, but when I posted about this on my LinkedIn page, 87 per cent of those agreeing with me were agency leaders who felt enough was enough. It's been my best-performing post ever. This wasting of work seems to really be touching a nerve with all of us in the creative industry.

So I have three suggestions to #StopWastingWork.

Big corporations should donate their pitch list

This could be immense. Big brands could ask their rostered agencies to spend pitch time on other things, such as for the good of the planet and the people on it. Imagine if every corporation appointed one partner without a pitch, but asked the others to use their pitch time for good. Everyone on the roster would get their chance at some stage for paid work, because surely that's the point of being on a roster? No more heartache, wasted late nights, great ideas in the bin because you came second or third. In addition, it would end the terrible mental health load that pitches can create on staff members – particularly the junior team.

Pay up

Only ask people to pitch if you pay them. Only accept a pitch if you're going to get paid. Very quickly I propose that pitch lists shrink and waste is reduced. If an agency does not win but still gets paid something, they can either use that for their bottom line or better still use the fees to support their team doing something they really care about – pro bono work for a charity, helping a local community or staff welfare.

Procurement is not an excuse for a pitch

No client, be they commercial or charity, needs a pitch to determine if you are worth your fees. It’s not right to use the finance team to legitimise this waste of intellectual capital. Some tailored creds, a chemistry meeting and a rate card are enough.

Imagine what an extra 10 per cent of the incredible brains and creativity this industry has could do. What if we just stopped pitching so much and started using that time fighting to change the world?

Zac Schwarz is creative director at Glimpse

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