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ANA/4A’s Cost of the Pitch


Historically, it has been understood that agencies devote significant resources to the defense of an existing account when put into review and to the pursuit of new business. Until now, however, there has been little if any data on the cost of any agency review to the client.

The findings from this research identified a significant cost to the client when they run a review, as it is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. The cost implications, potential for disruptions in daily work, and delays in campaign and product launches, as well as the evident impact on partner relationships, should not be taken lightly.

  • For the client:
    • $408,500 for an agency pitch without participation from the incumbent.
    • $373,470 for an agency pitch with participation from the incumbent.
  • For the agency:
    • $204,461 for an agency that is not the incumbent.
    • $406,092 for the incumbent to participate.
  • If a typical pitch has three agencies as finalists, the average total cost of a review is:
    • About $1 million when there is no incumbent.
    • About $1.2 million when this is an incumbent.

Based on 300+ interviews with U.S. brand marketer and agency executives in March 2023, The Cost of the Pitch also found that:

  • Short-term vs. long-term: Half of marketers said that motivation of the incumbent agency is the main short-term benefit of an account review while 44 percent identified a new direction in strategy as the main long-term benefit.
  • Importance of relationships: Agencies (38 percent) and brand marketers (33 percent) emphasize a commitment to developing long-term relationships as the most important factor for reducing the need for an account/agency review. Thirty-three percent of marketers also cite a focus on aligning the right people that best complement client/agency counterparts.
  • Performance impact: Half of brand marketers said that the performance of the incumbent agency was the key factor that contributed to the decision to ultimately put the account up for review. However, only 1 in 3 procurement respondents agreed that performance was the key deciding factor to putting an account up for review. Rather, 2 in 3 said that performance was just one of the contributing factors.
  • The role of consultants: Forty-six percent of marketers use external consultants for reviewing existing agencies while 39% of agencies use consultants to defend account reviews.

In sum, given the time, the material expense, and the potential damage to the client-agency relationship, the need for an actual agency review should be well-considered, given the available options and the documented benefits a strong client-agency relationship can have.

This report contains the results of that survey, as well as key findings, conclusions, and next steps. Ultimately, the ANA and the 4A's will continue to work together to develop resources and tools to assist clients and agencies in making the search process simpler.

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"ANA/4A’s Cost of the Pitch." ANA, July 2023.