AGENCIES TOLD TO BOLSTER OWN BRAND TO FLOURISH;DELLA FEMINA AND ROTHENBERG NOTE PITFALLS OF ACCOUNT PITCHES

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[indian wells, calif.] Ad agencies must practice what they preach about branding and avoid becoming commodity products if they want to survive in the 1990s.

That was the message from speakers at the annual Western States Advertising Association meeting. The title of the meeting: "Survival of the Fittest."

DON'T GIVE IT AWAY

Jerry Della Femina, chair-man-CEO of Jerry & Ketchum, New York, said agencies in pitches that require speculative creative undermine the industry by giving away millions of dollars worth of their product.

Once an account is won, "they never want to compensate you on what they said the account was going to bill," he added, challenging shops to compare spec pitch costs vs. account profits.

Also discussing agency pitches was Randall Rothenberg, senior columnist at Esquire and author of "Where the Suckers Moon," the story of the pitch for the Subaru of America account, won by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. At the end of the week of pitches in that review, "you couldn't tell one [agency] from another," he said.

Most agencies pitching failed to realize the client needed a strong media plan to make its media dollars work harder and instead tried to sell TV spots, recycled taglines or to fix their own agency problems, Mr. Rothenberg said.

At the meeting, Diane Krause, managing partner of Highway One Communications, Los Angeles, was elected president. She succeeds Bart Young, CEO of Fraser/Young, Santa Monica.

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