Stick to your principles or undervalue the industry

I spent a day travelling to and from the British Chiropractic Association’s offices in Reading earlier this week to attend a pre-pitch briefing meeting. As a member of the Design Business Association, I of course drew to its attention the fact that, as a DBA member, my company would request a nominal fee to cover the pitch work, since free-pitching is prohibited.

The expression on the faces of the triumvirate opposite was one of thunderstruck surprise. Pay for pitching? Outrageous. ‘None of the other consultancies has asked for anything at all’. The words were almost spat across the table at me.

I quietly replied that this was disappointing, but that our consultancy cannot be held responsible for other people’s decisions.

The meeting ended shortly thereafter, and at least one of the board seemed to have a more conciliatory attitude. She understood that my stand was for the benefit of all the consultancies concerned, not just our own, and promised to put it to the BCA’s marketing committee.

How depressing, then, to receive a call today that confirmed my fears. By a big majority, the motion has been rejected, my consultancy is out of the running, and the BCA will benefit from thousands of pounds-worth of free design.

So, how much was I asking for as a ‘nominal fee’ to show good faith on behalf of the BCA? £5000 per group? £2000? No. £400. Roughly equivalent to a single designer’s day rate. Consider, for a moment, that a local chiropractic clinic here in Brighton is charging £28 per session – and a session lasts between 10 and 15 minutes on average.

I don’t imagine that there will be any end to this debate. But if this experience is representative, and only one in four consultancies is prepared to make a stand against free-pitching, clients, naturally, will grab free design with both hands if it’s offered.

Henry Hyde



Brighton BN1 1AX

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