Robot Food kicks off anti-free pitch drive

Driven by a request for an unpaid creative pitch to a petfood company, consultancy Robot Food is launching its No Free Pitching campaign.

Robot Food director Simon Forster says the consultancy was one of three groups selected from Marketing Week’s Brand Communications Book by the would-be client. Full first-stage concepts were requested when the consultancy was contacted last week.

A critique of competitors and the current design, a rationale and a quotation for the project were also stipulated, he adds. ’I pointed out it was asking for half of the project up front, three times over, free of charge,’ says Forster.

When told that only the winning consultancy would be offered a £15-20 000 budget, he ’politely declined the offer’. A campaign website,, goes live this week, from where designers can download a logo and use it as a marque on their own websites.

Forster says, ’It’s a bit crude, but that’s what you might expect, as we did it for free.’ Reacting to the new campaign, Nick Ramshaw, President of the Design Business Association, says clients need to be ’educated’ rather than ’cut-off’, and that the campaign is ’reactionary.’

’We need to ask why clients are doing it in the first place – it is often through inexperience [in procuring design],’ says Ramshaw. ’It is still an issue for some, but we have a trade association in the DBA, trying hard to protect our interests.’

The DBA runs best-practice training courses for public-sector procurement, and in June will launch its Directory Project, which aims to educate clients further on holding pitches. DBA chief executive Deborah Dawton says consultancies caught in free-pitching conflict should point out that the DBA does not condone it, in the first instance, before offering DBA mediation. ’We don’t name and shame clients – we draw alongside,’ she says.

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