IPA and ISBA launch the Pitch Positive Pledge

The new initiative aims to improve pitching behaviours to improve the lives of people, the planet and profit.

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, the IPA and ISBA have launched  the new ‘Pitch Positive Pledge’.

The pledge seeks to improve the pitching process for agencies and advertisers for the benefit of people within the industry, the planet and profit. 

The Pledge is being supported by Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and NABS, following reports that almost 40% of the industry workforce has felt stressed or anxious in the past twelve months. With the involvement of these mental health-focused organisations, the Pledge aims to make the pitching process more intentional, accountable and responsible for all involved to drive better outcomes such as greater transparency, and better mental wellbeing. 

Where in past, pitch guides have primarily focused on the process and ‘how to’ of pitching, they have perhaps lacked consideration of human and environmental costs. This new initiative seeks to address systemic pitching behaviours, providing a new perspective as well as a heightened focus on the mental health of people involved in the pitch which will lead to better quality of work as well as fewer costs and less wastage. Notably the pledge comes to market at a time when a growing number of indicators point to growing levels of burnout across the industry.

Raising the bar 

The full pledge can be found here and details the core commitments agencies and clients must adhere to as well as outlining the various considerations they must take into account during the three stages of the pitch process – before, during and after. In essence these suggestions are focused on the following three areas:

  • Before a pitch: Be positive a pitch is required 
    • The advertiser needs to be positive that a pitch is necessary and will provide a written statement clearly setting out why.
  • During a pitch: Run a positive pitch 
    • The advertiser will consider the implications of the requirements it asks the agency to fulfill during the pitch.
    • The agency will consider both the interest of their client and the wellbeing of their people throughout the process.
  • After a pitch: Provide a positive resolution 
    • Win or lose, the advertiser will inform the agency of the pitch outcome directly and provide feedback on their performance. 
    • For agencies, win or lose, they will accept the client’s decision and provide feedback on how well their team handled the pitch and adhered to the Pledge.

One of the very few positives that the coronavirus has delivered is an inflection point, a discontinuous moment to change things, and an opportunity to tackle the long standing challenges facing our industry.

Julian Douglas. IPA President and Vice Chairman & International CEO at VCCP

Perfecting the process long-term

To measure the impact of the Pitch Positive Pledge, the IPA and ISBA will be commissioning an industry survey of agencies and clients to benchmark current pitching activity with questions addressing the areas of mental health, wastage, costs and effectiveness, which will be run again in a year’s time to chart progress.

“One of the very few positives that the coronavirus has delivered is an inflection point, a discontinuous moment to change things, and an opportunity to tackle the long standing challenges facing our industry.” explained IPA President and Vice Chairman & International CEO, VCCP, Julian Douglas.

He continued; “One of those challenges has been pitching, of which the negative impacts are so high. As we have seen from the latest industry figures, mental health issues have increased significantly among industry members. Now is the time to change and the feedback we’ve received is that people feel like they can. This change won’t happen unless we all play our part, which is why I’m delighted to have such support and collaboration from the outset. The Pitch Positive Pledge isn’t a marketing tool. It is a call for a change in behaviour across the industry.”

The pledge launches with support from over 70 companies that have already pledged their commitment including Samsung, Virgin Media 02, Nestle, SpecSavers, British Gas and Nationwide Building Society, as well as PWC, AAR, Wunderman Thompson, The7Stars, BBH, VCCP and The Advertising Association, among others.

The Pitch Positive Pledge was initially discussed at RENEW in January this year. Following the cross-industry conference, the IPA and ISBA ran a series of workshops with their members, partners and intermediaries to work through the full details to ensure its long-term success for the industry. The Pledge will be regularly reviewed and a progress update will be shared at the RENEW 2023.

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Mental Health