Some alternatives to the practice of creative pitching

Is creative pitching a waste of time (Practice, DW 30 January)? I believe so. A visual response, except for the simplest of projects, is meaningless without the results of research and strategic development phases to provide the structure on which it is built. Once selected, does the design group spend the rest of the client’s budget proving that the first response was correct, or risk starting from scratch and coming up with something quite different which the client may then reject?

That said, we too produce design rosters for clients. To us it is a positive sign that they consult with us because they do not understand design, do not have knowledge of the design industry and the players, and believe they cannot assess a consultancy’s suitability for a project. If they did, why would they hire us? And why wouldn’t we consider them “a good client” as Paul King does not? Hasn’t educating clients always been part of the consultant’s professional obligation?

Our latest brief is to develop a roster of design groups able to do a large identity programme with a significant nomenclature component. Our client wants us to assess 20 consultancies and select four to brief thoroughly on the business of the client and the reasons for the project. The client plans to visit the four, receive a credentials pitch, meet potential strategic and creative team members, and get a feeling for the environment. Then they will select the ones to ask for proposals. (Of course, we know it is not necessary to look at 20, but, to make them comfortable we will, at least in questionnaire form.)

We suggested giving the research and strategic phases to two consultancies if the client is not confident about making a selection after meeting the four finalists. While the process of selection is expensive and time consuming, it does prove that the client understands the importance of the programme to its future success.

RitaSue Siegel

RitaSue Siegel Resources

New York

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