How might pitching change post-lockdown?

Coronavirus has forced the creative industry to adapt overnight, but does that extend to pitching, or is it as wasteful and stress-inducing as ever? CR investigates what might change post-Covid

Most creatives will agree that pitching can be problematic. It’s a high pressure, high stakes process that pits agencies against the clock, and each other, to deliver brilliant ideas for zero financial recompense.

“There’s a lot of analogies around pitching, and that it’s unique and strange in a way,” says Brave creative director Caroline Paris. “You wouldn’t get three builders to come round and build you something, and then pay the one you like the most. It seems absolutely ridiculous when you think of it in other worlds. I think it is a stress test of the agency, and I think it could definitely be tighter and fairer as a process.”

While some creatives might thrive in this environment – Paris describes herself as someone that enjoys that short, intense burst of creativity – it undoubtedly takes a toll on those involved. And it’s become even more challenging during lockdown, which has seen agencies forced to connect with clients remotely, and creatives dream up ideas from whatever spare space they have in their homes. To make things worse, it’s all happened against a backdrop of dwindling work, redundancies and an ongoing global crisis.

You don’t always know how well you’re coming across, or how well they’re receiving the work in a logistical sense as well as emotional

Paris has experienced some of these difficulties first hand, saying that the rapidly changing nature of things meant that pitches Brave worked on at the start of lockdown weren’t necessarily relevant further down the line, resulting in weeks of lost work. She also says being unable to pitch face-to-face has made things harder, with a row of people on a Zoom call unable to replicate the chemistry of meeting in person. “You might share a moodboard, which is a really powerful and emotive piece of work, but if [the client] has a crappy internet connection they get a stuttery experience,” she adds. “You don’t always know how well you’re coming across, or how well they’re receiving the work in a logistical sense as well as emotional.”

But for all the difficulties coronavirus has brought, it’s also forced the creative industry to embrace the kinds of change that has been discussed for years – flexible hours and remote working being major examples. So can we expect this to stretch to pitching?