VCCP joins Pitch Positive Pledge


Agency News



VCCP are proud to have joined over 70 companies in pledging their commitment to Pitch Positive Pledge, a newly launched cross-industry pledge that aims to tackle systemic pitching behaviour and drive better outcomes across the industry for its people, the planet and profit. 

The joint initiative established by the IPA and ISBA seeks to improve the behaviours of agencies and advertisers around pitching for the benefit of the industry people, the planet and profit. Samsung, Boots, Virgin Media O2, Nationwide Building Society, Nestle, as well as PWC, AAR, Wunderman Thompson, BBH among others, have also pledged their involvement.

With almost 40% of the industry workforce reporting feeling stressed and anxious in the last twelve months, the Pledge, supported by Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Nabs, brings together the two trade associations, their members, procurement professionals and intermediaries, to focus on making the pitching process more intentional, accountable and responsible for both advertisers and agencies. In doing so, it aims to drive better outcomes including more transparency and better mental wellbeing, resulting in better quality work, fewer costs and less wastage.

Speaking of the Pledge, the IPA President and our Vice Chairman & International CEO, Julian Douglas (aka Dougie) said: “One of the very few positives that the coronavirus has delivered is an inflection point, a discontinuous moment to change things, and an opportunity to tackle the long standing challenges facing our industry. 

“One of those challenges has been pitching, of which the negative impacts are so high. As we have seen from the latest industry figures, mental health issues have increased significantly among industry members. Now is the time to change and the feedback we’ve received is that people feel like they can. This change won’t happen unless we all play our part, which is why I’m delighted to have such support and collaboration from the outset.”

“The Pitch Positive Pledge isn’t a marketing tool. It is a call for a change in behaviour across the industry. By signing up to the Pledge, agencies and clients are making a clear commitment to the positive mental health of their people. In tandem, we hope it will lead to better wealth for their businesses by cutting down on unnecessary waste, in terms of resources, time and energy. This is our chance to really make a difference for the benefit of our current industry employees and for future generations for whom we hope conditions will be fairer and even more enjoyable.” 

Historically pitch guides have focused on the process and ‘how to’ of pitching and have lacked the consideration of both human and environmental costs. This initiative seeks to address the systemic pitching behaviours, providing a new perspective. 

The Pledge

The full pledge can be found on and details the core commitments agencies and clients must adhere to and outlines the various considerations they must take into account during the three stages of the pitch process – before, during and after. In summary, these comprise:

  • Be positive a pitch is required (before a pitch)

The advertiser will be positive a pitch is necessary and will provide a written statement clearly setting out why.

  • Run a positive pitch (during a pitch)

The advertiser will consider the implications of the requirements it asks the agency to fulfil during the pitch. Meanwhile, the agency will consider both the interest of their client and the wellbeing of their people throughout the process.

  • Provide a positive resolution (after a pitch)

Win or lose, the advertiser will inform the agency of the pitch outcome directly and provide feedback on their performance. Meanwhile for agencies, win or lose, they will accept the client’s decision and provide feedback on how well their team handled the pitch and adhered to the Pledge.

To help ensure its long-term success for the industry, the initiative has received strategic input from a number of leading agencies, including VCCP, Wunderman Thompson, Mother and others. In addition, and in light of the Pledge’s commitment to improving the mental health of the industry’s workforce, the IPA and ISBA worked hand in hand with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and with the support of NABS.

Creating long-term behaviour change

To measure the impact of the Pitch Positive Pledge, the IPA and ISBA will be commissioning an industry survey of agencies and clients to benchmark current pitching activity with questions addressing the areas of mental health, wastage, costs and effectiveness, which will be run again in a year’s time to chart progress.

The initiative will report on completed pitches to showcase best practice, and client and agency commitment to the Pledge will also be incorporated into ongoing industry trade press reports. 

Pitch Positive Pledge will be regularly reviewed by the IPA and ISBA and a progress update will be provided at the flagship cross-industry RENEW event in January 2023. 

Andrew Lowdon, Director of Agency Services, ISBA said of the pledge, “Signing up to this Pledge provides clients, intermediaries, and agencies the opportunity to look afresh at their pitching behaviour. There were examples of poor pitching behaviours before the pandemic, but Covid has changed the way we all work. There is a lot of good practice deployed but maintaining and spreading it further is required as we seek to value individuals’ wellbeing, and recognise the importance of good mental health. The Pitch Positive Pledge doesn’t seek to change the process by which pitches are run, it seeks to make the process more intentional and operate with greater consistency through better planning, preparation, and project management. There is nothing new or onerous in the pledge, just the behaviours employed throughout making a difference. It’s about seeking advertisers and agencies alike to remind themselves or learn what good pitching should look like. For a multitude of reasons, there may be some who perhaps may not have lived up to these expectations previously, but now can refocus using this industry Pledge.”