Demanding fees for pitches is not the answer

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What saddens me about the free-pitching debate is not the core issue of the debate, but the same ivory tower position that is taken up (DW 30 October).

Brand identity, as with most creativity, is a tough, hard-nosed business today. Competition is fierce and the demands on us, can at times, be unreasonable. So what? Speak to any manager in manufacturing and you will discover what “tough” really means.

If, as it seems, we are about to enter a recession, I question whether it is the right time to take our Conran Shop begging bowl to our clients and ask for more. Could it be that they will actually have less to spend?

After 25 years in the business I remain as passionate now about what we can achieve as when I started. I have, though, also developed a healthy degree of cynicism about the way in which we behave. I see few of us living in abject poverty as a result of our profession. In fact, I’m sure that if we were paid on the same scale as nurses, BMW sales in this country would drop by 30 per cent.

So why do we need more money? We must examine whether projects are genuinely under-funded or whether we are just financing soaring overheads and salaries.

Perhaps we should focus our minds on how we deliver genuine added value and/or cost effectiveness for the duration of projects. Design is not an isolated activity, it is part of a whole project process. Yet many famous names in our industry still fail to understand print processes and substrate capabilities. The net effect of this frequently appears as remedial costs borne by the client at the repro stage or beyond.

While surprises may be welcome in creativity, they have no place in project management.

We must become customer focused and understand precisely how our valuable skills fit within our clients’ overall business. In some instances we may have to broaden our skill base in order to fulfil the needs of the industry.

Greater trust will come from greater professionalism.

In my experience, respect is earned not automatically given.

John Watts

Managing director

Mainline Partners

London SE1

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