David Patton of Y&R: why good pitches need intermediaries

A late posting on this site Friday afternoon caught my eye. It concerned an agency boss fulminating about the role of intermediaries and questioning their level of contribution to the pitch process.

I thought it was a cheap shot.

The intermediaries’ role should not be undervalued. They are a crucial part of the industry – the much-needed oil in cogs.

My broad experience of working with intermediaries both agency and client side has been overwhelmingly positive. Yes, they are occasionally the bearer of bad news, but that doesn’t mean the messenger should be thrown overboard.

One should never underestimate how little clients know (nor care) about the advertising industry. They naturally care passionately about advertising but most marketers simply don’t have the time or inclination to read Campaign or Moreaboutadvertising on a day to day, even week to week basis. Frankly, they’ve got much more important matters to attend to.

Many clients only deeply engage in our industry when they need to hire a lead agency – say once every three years. Considering there are (I guess) over 300 agencies in the UK market, all of whom claim to offer very similar services, a pitch is a very complicated and daunting process to undertake.

I would always advise a client to work with an intermediary to secure the best agency fit and value. I would also as an agency prefer to work on a pitch which is being supported by an intermediary rather than being solely driven by a client.

From a client perspective, intermediaries cut through the smoke and mirrors to ensure marketers are given access to the most suited and relevant agencies. Vice versa, for agencies intermediaries maintain a strict and level playing field and critically they keep the pitch process on track.

Finally, pitching aside I’ve always found intermediaries very forthcoming and constructive in their evaluation of agency capabilities and insightful on where improvements can be made.

I’m conscious all the above is simple and obvious stuff, but sometimes as an industry we just need to be a little more supportive and appreciative of each other.

David Patton is global president of Y&R.

One Comment

  1. Bollocks… If the people at the client end responsible for spending millions on advertising do not know what is going on in the ad biz… They shouldn’t have the job. Duh!!!

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