In what has been a hotly debated issue for years within the broadcast design community, we now have new information comparing pitch compensation in the US and Europe. Although the 2009 study (conducted by Worldwide Partners) takes a look at pitch fee structure for traditional advertising agencies, it nonetheless offers a rare comparative glimpse at the two leading markets in the world.
The results? The survey found that European ad agencies were more likely to get compensated for ideas presented during new business pitches than shops based in the US. From my experience, it does seem like US design firms are a bit more willing to engage in no-fee pitches. Reasons for this vary. One possibility could be the large number of shops competing at any one given time in the mega client LA & NYC hubs. As such, if more agencies are throwing free boards at a prospective assignment, clients may be less apt (and less able) to compensate pitch participants.
Some more crunchy data from the study; of the agencies that responded to the survey, nearly half, 49% reported rarely or never receiving compensation from clients.
Only 5% in North America reported getting pitch fees, while 56% of agencies based in Europe said marketers offer remuneration for new business pitches. The pitch compensation structures varied, from a flat fee of about $5000 to a fixed percentage of the contract amount. And again, although these figures are based on traditional ad agency reviews, it nonetheless supports similar observations in broadcast design/branding industry.
I must add (in defense of US marketers), however, that I have had a great number of clients in the US that have compensated for boards through the years. Further, the consensus seems to be that main titles and channel identity assignments have a higher paid pitch percentage over other types of projects.
On a positive note, as I see it, the market continues to offer chances for smaller shops to win hotly contested midline ($75k-$150k) assignments. It also provides unique opportunities for broadcast design & branding shops to pick up previously ungettable direct to client branding work that just doesn’t fit the old ad agency pricing model.
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*I have received a number of responses to the original publishing of this story. For more perspective on this article, you can read a few reader responses here.