More than half of agency CEOs are confident they could respond to client briefs in the next month, despite remote working, with just 8% calling for all new business activity to be put on hold.
A further 19% are happy to manage new business work remotely in the initial stages but would want to hold final presentations and negotiations face to face, while 16% add that the pitch process will need to be totally rethought to work in the current climate.
The findings are based on the ID Comms CEO survey, with responses from more than 80 agency leaders with global and regional market responsibilities, representing all major agency groups and the leading independents, responsible for over 80% of global ad spend.
However, agencies are likely to be much more selective about which briefs they respond to.
Agency Global CEO: “Pitches that challenge the agency from a business strategy point of view would be more attractive. Pitches that aim to tackle business issues in the short and medium-term, would be a source of inspiration and passion to work on.”
Agencies are also seeking streamlined processes from consultants to make sure that time and effort isn’t wasted.
Agency CEO, USA: “I think timelines will naturally slow but pitches can still move forward. Most likely pitch priorities will shift, and it will be important for prospects to see how nimble agencies are in maneuvering difficult situations such as these... I think consultants and prospects running their own pitches should leave options wide open for agencies to pose their own solutions to showcase their problem-solving skills.”
Agency CEO, EMEA: “If [a pitch] has to happen while we are all in isolation, I wonder whether you almost reverse the process: 1. Set our commercial stipulations 2. Respond to a brief 3. Have a chemistry meeting. I realize that sounds weird but would avoid time-wasting in every way.”
In particular, they warn that they will want to be clear about why the advertiser needs to conduct a review immediately, not just because they fear that some will seek to use the current crisis to drive prices down lower
Agency President, EMEA: “One area which we will closely watch now is the reason for the pitch and if it is related to Covid-19 - if it is a short term play to reduce costs we may decline. Additionally, we would not be keen on clients with onerous financial terms (such as longer payment terms) as this is counterproductive to the industry.”
Agencies are also concerned that staff morale could be hit hard at an already difficult time with many concerned about income and jobs if they hear that the account they work on is up for review.
Agency Chief Growth Officer, EMEA: “We will put extra focus on deadline pressures given the significant daily changes in regular client deliverables, so that our teams are not over-burdened in this trying time.”
There is also concern about the processes that could be used to identify the right talent and build chemistry in a pitch that happens totally remotely. This is one area where agencies are keen for advertisers to invest more time and energy to try and build the chemistry that’s needed for a successful partnership.
Agency CEO, EMEA: “It’s challenging to develop chemistry or negotiate with new clients in a pitch scenario. While doing this in person is hard, doing it remotely feels totally unrealistic.”
Tom Denford, CEO North America at ID Comms: “Agencies are amazingly agile and resilient and agency CEOs are working incredibly hard right now to provide their clients with the strategic advice and support they need. The findings of this latest ID Comms CEO survey show how agencies are embracing business as usual via remote working. However, advertisers must be sensitive to the new reality and those who need to review agencies must adapt their processes to get the best out of agencies. We have prepared guidelines for those advertisers currently pitching or planning an agency pitch in 2020; explaining how to adapt the process for remote working. One thing is clear, advertisers should not look to exploit agency desperation with a pitch to drastically cut costs or extend payment terms in the current climate"
- The CEO survey was conducted between March 19-27, 2020 and findings are based on responses from 81 respondents.
- All 81 respondents are either CEOs or New Business leaders, they work for major agencies representing more than 80% of global ad spend.
- 30 percent of the respondents stated they have global management responsibilities, 29% work in EMEA roles, while 23% represent North American agencies. The remaining 18% oversee APAC or LATAM agencies.
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