Top names unite in fee initiative

Packaging design groups are taking the long-running controversy over low or non-existent pitch fees into their own hands, amid industry disillusionment over the handling of the issue by industry bodies such as the Design Business Association.

A band of brand packaging designers is to meet next month with the aim of establishing a minimum pitch fee, which could then be demanded for all pitches. The “pitch fee forum”, as the initiative is provisionally called, has written to Design Week to outline its views. Signatories include senior management from branding consultancies including Pearlfisher, Williams Murray Banks, Coley Porter Bell, Wickens Tutt Southgate and Turner Duckworth.

DBA chairman Colin Porter says the initiative is in line with broad DBA policies, and that he will attend the meeting to give support. He says he has seen no frustration in design groups over the DBA’s handling of pitching issues. “But there is frustration with some clients… and with other design consultancies which free pitch,” he says.

In addition to a continued pledge not to free pitch, the members of the alliance intend to highlight issues specific to the packaging design market. They will emphasise that their concern is a commercial one, based on the high costs of pitching and subsequent reductions in the quality of work, rather than a “whinge”.

On the agenda will be the increasing number of groups asked to pitch for individual projects. Often, claim forum members, a wide range of design groups is used to iron out a full brief before appointing a consultancy. Low budget pitches, with a nominal fee, also represent a problem which is “damaging to our professional standards”, writes the group.

So far, 22 consultancies have asked to attend the forum’s first meeting on 18 November.

“It’s fundamental that we charge for the most valuable part of our work – the ideas,” says Turner Duckworth founder Bruce Duckworth.

Along with a number of others involved in the initiative, Duckworth feels the DBA is “not taking a hard enough line”, on the issue of pitch fees. Tutssels founder Glenn Tutssel says, “I feel that nobody is doing much for this issue. I want D&AD to take up the case and fight the corner for us, that’s why I’m standing for a position there.”

Pearlfisher and Williams Murray Banks are responsible for the launch of the forum, which they have jointly funded. Pearlfisher will host the inaugural meeting.

See Letters, page 10

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