Malaysian 4As industry body criticises inconsiderate advertisers that demand pitches with unreasonable timelines

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Malaysian 4As industry body criticises inconsiderate advertisers that demand pitches with unreasonable timelines

Following the stand taken in 2018 against advertisers demanding the ownership of pitch ideas, plans, and work product arising from requests for proposals, the Malaysian 4As is now turning its attention towards advertisers requesting pitches with unreasonable timelines.


It has become increasingly common for agencies to be invited for pitches with non-negotiable deadlines of two weeks, or even less.

In a 4As released statement from Khairudin Rahim (pictured – CEO of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia) advertisers say that they value and want creative ideas that drive marketing effectiveness, ask that the agency uncover the relevant consumer insights, want help to articulate the brand purpose and harness the use of people as a powerful brand medium.

Most of all they want the elusive, inspirational idea that can take the brand from good to great. And they want it in two weeks.

The statement says, sadly, these advertisers do not plan ahead to allow sufficient time for agencies to have face-to-face meetings to discuss the brief, ask questions, and to talk through the initial thinking with the advertiser.

Even more galling to Malaysian ad agencies is the slow post-pitch evaluation and selection process, with the results announcement dates rarely honoured, begging the question as to why such compressed timelines were tabled in the beginning, with some advertisers taking three months or more to decide the winning agency. The 4As is quick to point out that these advertisers are not however members of the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA).

The selection delay is often because the advertiser failed to ensure that crucial requisites were in place such as having the pitch brief fully endorsed by top management, having an objective evaluation criteria and ensuring the key decision makers are available throughout the evaluation process.

The Malaysian 4As believes two weeks for the advertising agency to strategise, create, and present their pitch proposal, yet three months or more for the advertiser to decide is unreasonable.

The 4As believes advertisers that compress pitch timelines are ultimately doing themselves no favours.

The strength of advertising agencies lies in their ability to respond to briefs with a level of consistency, quality of creative insight, and end-product that advertisers can’t do themselves. Furthermore, agencies have the independence to develop fresh perspectives and out of the box thinking, providing the antidote to the advertiser’s tunnel vision, something that many companies are not aware that they are suffering from.

Reasonable time has to be allowed for the development of constructive ideas between brief and presentation. Bearing in mind that in an ongoing relationship, the strategy and effective ideas to alter consumer behaviour can take weeks or months to develop, then four or five weeks is recommended for the development of work for a full creative pitch.

The 4As believes advertisers must get their act together and conduct pitches sensibly.

This can be done with recommended best practice described in “Finding an Agency”, a guide for advertisers published by 4As and R3, and available for download on the 4As website.

The Malaysian 4As encompasses more than 70 home-grown and international member agencies who are the key players in Malaysia’s advertising industry.