The 4A’s is releasing an agency review participation agreement with standards for an agency and potential client to agree on before a pitch process. While the organization has released guidance on this topic before, this marks the first time the trade association has released an agreement meant to be accepted by both parties before a pitch.
The document, found here, aims to curb bad behavior by setting expectations for nine key areas that have been an issue for agencies in the past, such as proper communication, clearly defined budget and expectations, internal alignment, process and timing, the confidentiality of materials and data submitted, speculative work, timely and actionable feedback, payment terms, and public commentary.
According to Matt Kasindorf, senior VP, business intelligence and insight at the 4A’s, this new guidance was in response to ghosting and other issues the organization had been hearing from its members, capped by Ad Age’s recent article centered around agency review bad practices.
“If you look across different industries such as management, consulting, legal, accounting, architecture, the relationships between prospects and those organizations tend to be very professional and for whatever reason, there is just such bad behavior that takes place between prospects and agencies,” Kasindorf told Ad Age. “We put this together particularly to address reviews that are being run by marketers themselves. And oftentimes either a marketer may not have experience running an agency search process or may just consider an agency just another vendor.”
Agencies can either use the pdf agreement with 4A’s stamped approval on it or use the Word document version if they would like to edit the agreement to fit their specific needs. While this document isn’t enforceable, it’s important to set expectations upfront which agencies may not always do as do, Kasindorf says.