Kingston slammed over free pitching

Kingston Council is being taken to task for what designers claim is an ‘unfair and damaging’ free tender to appoint a roster of design consultancies.

Kingston Council is being taken to task for what designers claim is an ‘unfair and damaging’ free tender to appoint a roster of design consultancies.

Cog Design director Michael Smith has written to the council complaining that the tender calls for ‘quite a lot of creative work with no fee for that work’.

‘We believe that asking a creative company to produce work for free is counter-productive to your needs and, at worst, unfair and damaging to the process of tendering for work,’ he writes in an e-mail to the council sent on 17 June.

The council is currently trying to put together a roster of graphics and branding consultancies that will remain in place for the next three to five years.

‘We wish to work with suppliers that care about design as much as we do, and who are prepared to illustrate their commitment to that partnership,’ a council spokesman tells Design Week.

‘We do not think it is unreasonable, when establishing a creative partnership, to ascertain the creative credentials of our partners before committing public money,’ he continues.

Smith wrote in his e-mail that ‘the [free pitching] process will have dramatically limited the pool of talent that could have been called upon by the borough’. However, the council claims that it has received expressions of interest from more than 300 groups.

Design groups with recent experience of similar situations are invited to contact the newsdesk.

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  • Anthony November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If three hundred people responded to this tender, it shows alot of talent and time is going to waste.

    Here is an interesting article by the Australian GD Asoc on free pitching. They also have some interesting resources as well – on free pitching and how to approach it.

  • Matt Turner November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Although not an agency, I received the following reply to a Design position which I applied for in Bristol recently:

    “We have had a fantastic response to the ad with many impressive CVs.

    To help us with the selection process, we are asking applicants if they could participate in the following design brief. This will help to give us an indication of your creative style, skills and abilities.”

    This was sent in reply to my initial application, before any interviews and was for an actual event taking place in September. I replied that I would be more than happy to submit designs for a brief as part of the interview process but not as part of the initial application as I feel that my portfolio adequately demonstrates my ability for the role.

    So its not just the client side that wants free work, it appears that some agencies are going down that route as well.

  • s howden November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The design community are the author’s of thier own misfortune inasmuch as when it is convienent most ,if not all will do it only, don’t tell anyone, and when you lose be indignent as hell.!….then do it again.

  • Jonathan Baldwin November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Matt, funnily enough I’m giving a presentation at a conference in London this week where I’ll make exactly the same point. The design industry is in no position to lecture on free pitching when its recruitment strategy is based around forcing graduates and other applicants to work for free until a position ‘opens up’. Many of my former students have spent up to two years working for free for agencies – some really big names – contributing to client work, yet not being paid.
    The industry calls it ‘getting experience’. I think there’s another name for it…

    Yet it’s considered acceptable by an industry that boasts how much it is worth to the UK economy.

    I met a father last week who had just remortgaged his house so his son could carry on getting unpaid work with agencies in the hope of a full-time job. He’s also surviving on jobseeker’s allowance. And yet he’s just worked on one of the biggest advertising accounts in the UK…

    Double standards indeed.

  • Jonathan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Ah, the constant free pitching debate.

    I, for one, can’t understand agencies / studios who complain that they are having to pitch for free.

    At the end of the day, no one is making you do it – no arm behind the back / ransom note – its a business decision to devote X of your resources to possibly secure a new client.

  • Louise Fulford November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    We are one of the agencies that has expressed interest in this tender and although I do not normally support free pitching for tactical one off projects (partly because a proper brief is rarely established), we don’t feel that demonstrating creative interpretation of what are essentially a set of brand guidelines is unreasonable if it leads to winning a long term rostered position – we work with several borough councils and it is not unusual practice for them.

  • Steve November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Should other service providers for councils also produce free work then? Maybe we should start seeing contractors should laying free roads to show how good they are at their job?

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