Ex-WPP exec launches pitch consultancy

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 21 February 2019
Greg Graham

Former long-serving WPP exec Greg Graham has launched a pitch consultancy business.

Graham, who is also widely known as Sparrow - which has been incorporated into his branding - spent more than 30 years working in various guises under the WPP banner.

Before leaving in October last year, following a “review of the group’s resources and future requirements”, he was marketing director. He was also previously chairperson of Media Federation Australia.

Across more than three decades, including working in New York running new business for seven years, Graham says he’s been across “hundreds of pitches”, recalling a pitch in the US for Sprint worth more than US$750 million.

Speaking to AdNews, Graham says the new venture focuses mainly around “pitch doctor” work, looking at strategic thinking, telling a compelling story, emotional stickiness, simplicity in delivery – and more.

“Pitching is the life blood of our industry and improving your conversion rate is vital if you want to grow your business and enhance your culture,” Graham says.

Graham incorporates industry nickname into new business venture

His clients are predominantly agencies in Australia and Asia, however marketers and media partners are also increasingly coming into the pitching fray and need advice around best practice in presentation and selling their story.

On the question of how the pitch process has changed over the last 30 years, he says “unfortunately” it’s not changed for the better.

“You would hope it’s about presenting inspiring business-building ideas that work with brilliant people behind them, however, the focus now is mainly on cost reduction and can you do it cheaper or more cost effectively?,” he explains.

“You always get what you pay for and it’s about the best people and the value they can bring to help grow your business. I want the CEOs and CMOs to make that decision and be part of the process including the procurement department.”

The shift in the increased involvement of procurement teams in the pitch process has seen agencies as "lambs to the slaughter", according to some. Driving prices down and forcing agencies to compete on purely transactional levels is a major issue that AdNews has covered extensively. 

Last year AANA CEO John Broome also urged marketers to be accountable for media contracts and wrestle back control of agency relationships that are being screwed down by procurement cost-cutting.

Graham says while he is only just starting out, down the track he wants to further build on “The Nest Consultancy” theme and the emotional benefits around that.

“A nest in a safe nurturing place for a family to grow and gather and it just works,” he says.

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