Is the pitching process broken and how can we fix it?

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Unless you find yourself in a particularly enviable position, if you work in the creative industries (particularly in advertising) then at some point you’re going to have to pitch for work.

The pitching process, as it once was, doesn’t really exist anymore. What was once a straightforward affair involving a revolving door of clients pitching ideas for a brief has now devolved into a merry-go-round or resentment, with some agencies barely needing to pitch at all and others struggling to see the point. After all, why spend so many resources working on a pitch you might never get to actualise?

Things were complicated further by the pandemic and lockdown as budgets were curtailed and once the world began to “return to normal,” many brands and agencies began to question whether the pitching purpose as it stood in 2022 was fit for purpose anymore.

Why doesn’t it work?


According to Julian Douglas, VCCP CEO and president of the IPA, there’s an element of staff burnout that needs to be addressed, as brands use the process to drive down costs to an unsustainable level. For example, it’s not unheard of for agencies to be told they’ve won a client on a Friday, only to then be told the following Monday that another agency has told them they’ll do the same work for less.

Then there are the unrealistic timeframes that lead to frustrated staff that feel overworked and undervalued. It all runs the risk of becoming a race to the bottom with agencies accepting new accounts even if they know it could end up being unprofitable. But how do we solve the problem?


The first stage to fixing a problem is always to acknowledge that there is one. For one thing, we have to understand that agencies showing their hands and giving away their best ideas during the pitching process is a problem that’s existed for years now. The pitch really needs to be more of a collaborative process that works out the challenges without diving too deep into the end solutions. The power is really in the hands of the agencies as they need to be more selective and more focused.


Of course, there’s also the need for agencies (especially smaller boutique agencies) to accept that they simply don’t have the resources to pitch for every project. They need to learn to pick their battles. Because pitching can be fun and rewarding work, but it can also be exhausting and soul destroying and a major waste of resources. Any agency that’s been in business for longer than six months will probably be able to offer a story of a pitch they won only for the work to be cancelled or the project to be much smaller than expected.

The perfect middleman


We’ve focused on how agencies and brands should be re-evaluating pitches, but what about the process of actually getting to the pitches? Are many agencies and brands not currently stuck in that repetitive dance of scrolling through former clients and seeing what skills match up? Creativepool saw a gap in the market here and ideated the concept of Creativepool studiobriefs.

This is a tool through which clients and brands can match with the right creative partners via a fully vetted director of creatives from the worlds of advertising and digital marketing to post-production and beyond. It’s a razor focused resource that is engineered to do one thing – put creatives together. We can even help you put together briefs, cutting down tremendously on wasted time and potential frustration.

If this kind of thinking can be taken further, we might even reach a point where pitches themselves become relics of a bygone era. And wouldn’t that really be something!

Images by Edirn Altern


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