The new AANA and MFA pitch guide

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 1 April 2021

Advertisers and media agencies have agreed on a set of guidelines for competitive pitching. 

The guidelines seek to address flaws identified by advertisers and agencies in a typical tender process, according to the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) and the Media Federation Australia (MFA).

The Successful Agency Pitching Guide covers all phases of the process, from determining if a pitch is an appropriate course for an advertiser, preparing the tender process and documentation, managing the tender process and the subsequent outcome, including any change of agency.

The guide is developed around four best practice principles – respect, fairness, transparency, and accountability -- while 
recognising that shared value creation for both parties is crucial to a sustainable relationship.

Both parties are tasked with considering:

  • That the process is clear, timely, and well-structured;
  • A behaviour charter, established at the start of the process, is included that details how crucial items, such as evaluation criteria, feedback mechanisms, approach to pitching fees and ownership of IP will be handled;
  • Building in flexibility that recognises that both advertisers' and media agencies' needs vary according to their business and operating model; and
  • Assessing the level of transparency the advertiser requires in the marketing value chain and balancing that with fairness in agency remuneration.

The guidelines recognise that tenders are advertiser-led but have been developed to consider the complexity and investment involved in the process.

For example, it requires sharing valuable strategic IP and involves a substantial commitment of time and resources to participate for both parties.

In more recent years, the tendering process has remained static and has often been slow to recognise that media buying has evolved significantly beyond the lowest cost per media to become a value creation discipline.

Three major advertiser members of the AANA and three agency members of the MFA were involved in developing the pitch guidelines along with PwC acting as project facilitator.

"In creating this guide for successful agency pitching, the MFA and AANA consulted widely with our members, non-members, media and creative agencies to identify the biggest pain points as well as what works," says Sophie Madden, MFA's CEO.

"The result is a guide that provides a best practice standard for pitching that addresses the issues identified with clear, practical steps to follow, to improve the experience and outcome for all parties. As our industry evolves, we will partner again with the AANA to update the guide regularly to ensure it remains relevant and useful."

At the 2020 Reset Live conference in November last year, AANA CEO John Broome said that the development of the tender
process guide with the MFA was a priority for 2021.

"The selection of the right media agency partner is a critical investment decision for an advertiser," he says.

"We're leaving ourselves hostage to fortune if the pitch process is not anchored in respect, fairness, transparency and accountability.

"At the end of the process, the advertiser should be confident that not only has the right agency been selected but that the
other agencies involved in the process will acknowledge its integrity and want to be shortlisted again for any future

The cross industry group: Anneliese Douglass, Chief Digital Director, Unilever; Nathan Young, Chief Operating Officer, OMD; Catherine Krantz, Executive Director Media Operations, Dentsu International; Chris Graham, Head of Global Media Accountability & Sourcing, McDonald’s; and Antonia Farquhar, Head of Media, Content & Data, Nestlé. 

The Successful Agency Pitching Guide.

pitch - best practice

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