Pitching for free sets the wrong tone from the start
Avi Dan’s column [“Fixing New Business,” April 25] hit the bull’s eye. But one thing he didn’t mention at length, something I always found mind-boggling, is the impact of starting off a client relationship by not being paid for pitches.

How can an agency expect to be financially healthy when it begins by not charging for its time? When you add in significant out-of-pocket costs, agencies can spend so much on a pitch that the break-even point may be beyond a year. (By the way, a $5,000 fee to compensate an agency does not help the bottom line, and is really a sham, as the prospect “owns” and can use the materials.)

In addition to setting a high financial hurdle, this non-compensation can also lead to a real imbalance in the client-agency relationship. Agencies love to think they are in a “partnership,” not a “vendor-client relationship.” Starting off by giving one’s services away is more likely to lead to the latter. The agency sets itself up for the type of relationship it is going to have by how it acts from day one … and how it lets itself be treated in the pitch process. You know, the old enabler thing.

I was hoping to use the advertising pitch model to learn more about some attorneys and architects/builders in my area. Unfortunately, they don’t subscribe to it.

Scott Gilbert
Retired agency CEO
Snowmass, Colo.

For the record: McCann Erickson, New York, not BBDO, created MasterCard’s “Hedge Trimmer” ad [Best Spots, May 16]. The Travel Channel, not the Discovery Channel, airs coverage of the World Poker Tour [A&C, May 16]. A story on online gambling companies [May 9] should have said that NBC has run ads for HollywoodPoker.net, which is an educational, play-for-free site, not HollywoodPoker.com, a play-for-money site.

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