Interview Request: Alternatives to Free Pitching

Alternatives to Free Pitching

Free pitching has long been an issue with designers. Some designers are for, some against, while others aren’t sure which way to jump. Do you?

Below is a request for help from a writer compiling research for a paper on free pitching.

I now turn you over to Sean Ashcroft…

I am a design journalist, and I am currently writing a white paper exploring alternatives to free pitching, and am seeking to interview, by email, design practitioners who do not engage (or rarely engage) in free pitching, but instead win new clients using alternative means.

Please note: This report will require in-depth answers from interviewees.


  • Please provide a brief career biography (current job title, agency name, age, location, etc).
  • What strategies other than free pitching do you employ to win new business?
  • Can you gives one or two in-depth examples of how you have implemented these?
  • Have you / your agency specialized your offering either by:
    i) Design discipline (EG: Mobile apps, human interaction design, etc)
    ii) Sector (EF: marine, construction, property, city branding, etc).
    If yes, please give details.
  • If you answered yes to either part of Q4, how important has this differentiation been to your non-reliance on free pitching?
  • Has your current agency ever engaged in free pitching? If yes, how did you implement change?
  • Do you have any faith in the ability of design bodies to change the culture of free pitching?
  • What is the most important piece of advice you can give to agencies who can see no alternative to free pitching?

Thank you in advance for any help you are able to offer.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Please contact me via either of the sites below, or sean ashcroft.

Sean Ashcroft
Journalist and writer
zyzzyva: Helping designers differentiate
Planet Client: Helping designers win clients, retain clients and understand clients

Miles on Free Pitching

Miles’ Blog: That monster called Free Pitch

No matter what you call it, Spec Work, Free Pitch, etc the concept is the same. I’ll get a handful of designers or studios to come up with a handful of concepts for my website, and the winner gets my business.

Great concept? No! There are no winners here.

  • Free pitching devalues your work.
  • Free pitching hurts all of your clients.
  • Free pitching produces crap work.
  • Free pitching makes the client look stupid.
  • Free pitching hurts the entire industry.
  • Free pitching is a big sign saying “We’re going broke”.
  • Free pitches encourages less planning.

Read the whole post over at Miles’ Blog.

Good one Miles!

Bitching About Pitching and Agency Compensation

Three Top Creatives Speak Their Mind at ANA Conference

Is this the beginning of the end?

In surprisingly strong comments before a gathering of the nation’s largest advertisers, three ad agency creative chiefs last week criticized the account pitching and compensation models that currently govern their business relationships with advertising clients.

Check out the whole article at: Advertising Age, Bitching About Pitching and Agency Compensation

Andy Budd on NO!SPEC

Creative pitches are toxic by Andy Budd

I’ve long held the belief that creative pitches are toxic, and unpaid creative pitches doubly so. This view is upheld by a number of professional design associations that actively ban their members from engaging in unpaid creative. Creative pitches are bad for the client, bad for the designer and bad for the industry as a whole, and I’m going to explain why…

For the rest of Andy’s post, go to Creative pitches are toxic.

Writers Ask Minister to Rein in TVNZ

Writers Ask Minister to Rein in TVNZ
Media Release from the New Zealand Writers Guild
12 May 2006

The New Zealand Writers Guild have asked Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey to amend the terms of an in-house competition being run by TVNZ.

The Life’s a Pitch contest invites TVNZ staff to pitch programme ideas to the content department. TVNZ takes the copyright to all entries it chooses to use but provides no payment to the creators. In the real world, when TVNZ commissions a show any creator could potentially expect to receive thousands of dollars.

Said Guild Executive Director Dominic Sheehan “We requested that the Minister require that TVNZ allow all entrants to retain the copyright to their entries. TVNZ will be free to contract for the rights, but at least then any creator will be able to negotiate for fair rates and conditions for their work.”

TVNZ’s own Charter requires them to “support and promote the talents and creative resources of New Zealanders and of the independent New Zealand film industry”. Sheehan points out “How is not paying people for their work supportive? TVNZ are wilfully breaching their own Charter. It is the government’s job to ensure that the terms of this Charter are adhered to which is why we’ve asked the Minister to intervene.”

TVNZ keep calling this contest “a bit of fun” but in fact their actions amount to a rights grab. It’s akin to copyright theft and that’s no fun at all.

For further comment contact: Dominic Sheehan 021 707 344.