The pitch we didnÕt have to have

By AdNews | 14 September 2001
MELBOURNE: Iconic Australian airline Ansett is in tatters only months after enormous amounts of money and energy were spent on advertising, and putting its future account up for pitch. While reports of CEO Gary ToomeyÕs resignation abounded at the time of going to press, Ian Elliot, CEO of George Patterson Bates Ñ creator of AnsettÕs public face Ñ hailed Toomey as the one man who could have turned the airline around. A reflective Elliot said the agency hasnÕt lost money even though the business insurance on AnsettÕs media spend has been removed, as have all its ads, and he still insists the pitch and the campaign were the right things to do. Melbourne agencies involved in the biggest pitch ($60m) this year have not only disagreed, theyÕve been positively scathing about Òthe whole messÓ. Michel Lawrence, chairman of J Walter Thompson, which entered the pitch reluctantly, said marketing and advertising were never the problems, and neither was ever going to solve deep-seated difficulties. ÒThe whole process was symptomatic of the airlineÕs problems,Ó he said. An estimated $1m was spent by agencies pitching, though none admits to more than the $20,000 (of their own money) stipulated by Ansett. In a process labelled ÒappallingÓ by Lesley Brydon, executive director of the Advertising Federation of Australia, the pitch has reignited resentment of clients Ògoing shoppingÓ every time management changes. ÒThis kind of pitching is not only reprehensible, it can ultimately cost jobs,Ó she said. ÒWhile I understand the huge prize at the end of the process, if agencies donÕt make clients pay for their time, their intellectual property and their costs, then theyÕre sending all the wrong signals in a very fragile business environment.Ó Jane Schou-Clarke

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.