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Building trust

In an opinion article by Diane Hargreaves, commercial administrator at CNS, published last year in this magazine (B2BM Oct 06, p5) agencies were lambasted for their failure to submit to the standard procurement procedures her company follows. Writing not only as ABBA chairman, but as someone directly involved in managing and running an agency, I would like to present the agency viewpoint.

Diane tells us the statistics speak for themselves. Apparently, 193 organisations were sent a request for information and only 33 per cent responded. So 62 sent in their response. Of these, apparently only 31 offered 'the correct level of services'. These lucky 31 were then sent a request for a proposal. Apparently, eight (4.15 per cent) removed themselves from the process, and only eight sent in proposals. Of these eight, only four were good enough and four had the audacity to ask for a pitch fee.

Spirit of co-operation
There is plenty that is disconcerting about this process, and plenty in the piece that should make agencies sit up and take note. In trying to find an agency to work with on something as important as branding, it is noteworthy that the agency is described as a 'supplier'. I suppose I should be realistic and understand that it is rare for agencies to hold an exalted 'partner' position with most companies, but what we do offer does demand a different kind of buying process from ordering photocopier toner.