More thoughts on the free pitching debate

I would like to add my thoughts to a no doubt heavy and angry postbag of comments regarding Elliott Turner’s free pitching comments (DW 25 September).

I am more than a little tired of the debate about free pitching being brought down to the ridiculous level of buying a car or, indeed, buying a meal.

Appointing a design supplier like any other purchasing decision should be an informed one, not one based on reputation alone. To do so would be foolhardy. How often have we bought a named product to find out that all we have bought into was complacency?

However, free pitching is not the answer to this problem.

There is a lot of ignorance about design (as demonstrated by Turner) and, for some, a line up of design suppliers would seem to be the best answer. This is a short-sighted, ill-directed and eventually costly solution.

A proper brief can only come about from intimate contact between client and designer. It is through the very process of developing a brief and formulating a strategy that the client can gauge the suitability of the designer.

How can you possibly achieve that intimacy with six competing consultancies in preparation for a pitch? Yes, you may produce what you consider to be an exhaustive brief, but, without design input, it will be one-sided and short-sighted. Any group faced with such a brief could only apply formula, gloss and a degree of hope.

As a creative person, I am often blinded by the sheer artistry and magic of a finished visual. How can a client, who is less visually aware, possibly be expected to be objective when faced with a sea of visuals in the beauty parade?

I do not agree that “a pitch without design is an incomplete entity” as any design needs to have a clearly thought-out strategy to have any value or impact. Turner obviously has no concept of this.

For those companies which do not understand how to get the best out of, or, indeed, source a consultancy, I would suggest they contact the Chartered Society of Designers or the design councillor at their local Business Link, who will be more than willing to help.

David O’Connor

Ock Creative

London EC1

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