TwitteRFP Moves On. Now Let’s See Who’s Really Paying Attention.

I had a bit of a personal stake in the Current TV TwitteRFP because I sent the tweet that got my agency on the first shortlist, as well as being a Current TV viewer and community member. So yes, it’s a little disappointing to see the final list sent by Jordan Kretchmer without Partners + Napier on it, but there are some other issues I’d like to focus on.
First, when you look at the 17 agencies left, you see only 3–McCann SF, McGarry Bowen and TBWA/Chiat/Day–that are owned by holding companies. 14 of the 17 are independents, some mid-sized and some with only a handful of employees. I think that’s huge. I believe that if advertising has a future, it’s in the independent shops–the ones who are only accountable to themselves and their clients. Without an accountant as CEO, these agencies can stay focused on client service and great creative work. I suspect Jordan understands this as much as anyone.
And let me say a bit about Jordan himself. He always sent direct tweets to me whenever my agency did something to get his attention. And he sent me a note of thanks within 5 minutes after posting the final list, which we didn’t make. It was simply a thank you note for participating. That’s a classy move, but more importantly, that’s the kind of communication that makes ad agencies feel appreciated. And when you get a nice, appreciative, communicative client, ad agencies will bend over backwards for that person. Clients who act like privileged assholes simply don’t get that kind of service for long.
I said it before, and my agency’s managing partner said it again today: It’s clear Jordan was an agency guy. He gets it, he understands that the new business process needed shaking up, and he put himself out there to do it. Now he’s got 17 agencies (I don’t think there’ll be 17 in-person presentations, but I’m not sure) to choose from, many of whom don’t usually appear in Adweek or Ad Age. He’ll get some great thinking, not just because he’s the client, but because he’s as dedicated as the agencies he’s considering.
So while Jordan got the attention of ad agencies across America, I hope there are others paying attention, too:

The CMOs and marketing directors who feel the need to ditch their agencies every year or so while trotting out the same 5 or 6 tired contenders to pitch an account.

The pitch consultants who demand that agencies pay money simply to get in their database for future consideration.

The legions of mediocre clients who feel entitled to treat agencies like shit day in and day out, then bitch in surveys about how their agencies are not responsive or nimble enough.

Are they out there? Are they watching? Will the TwitteRFP lead others to open up their new business processes? I sure as hell hope so. And I sure hope the agency that wins the Current TV business proves that Jordan, along with the dozens of agencies that expressed interest, were right to embrace this TwitteRFP. Success breeds imitation–and in this case, it would be a wonderful thing.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. explain to me again how a twitter cattle call is a good way to conduct a pitch. sure, there are some good shops on the list, but there are some pretty bad ones as well. why would anyone want a bad agency pitching their business?

  2. Well Jim, the “good” and “bad” agencies are the final 17 out of 60 or so, and that was Jordan’s final list based on his judgement. Sure would like to know which ones on that list you consider good or bad.
    But that’s not the point. He decided to open up the new business process to agencies who might not otherwise have been in the consideration set, not because they suck but because they have a lower profile or be more of a regional player than others.
    So he got a broad range of responses, good, bad and ugly. Plus, he got interest from people who wanted to work on the account, not necessarily agencies whose management or new business guru thought it would be a good idea to pitch.

  3. I’m sorta with Jim Schmidt, but perhaps for different reasons. First, besides the Twitter component, this appears to be a pretty traditional agency search. I mean, 17 shops? Are they all being compensated for pitching? Doubt it. Seems like a typical client asking people to jump through hoops. Plus, the range of agencies actually shows a lack of focus with the client. That BBH and TBWA\Chiat\Day are in the same boat as McGarryBowen tells the story pretty clearly.
    Yeah, smaller and local shops might be shut out from these shootouts. But maybe they should be the ones to take advantage of technology leveling the playing field and find ways to pitch without an invite (e.g., post a site with pitch ideas and send the link to the prospective client).
    FYI, I think BBH is tied to Publicis.

  4. @ Currently
    Yes, you are correct, Publicis has a stake in BBH. My oversight.
    I hope the remaining 17 participants will voice their experiences once a decision has been made, as it does appear that now it will shift to a more traditional RFP process. I bet there will be a further culling of the list before there’s lots of expenditures, spec work, travel, etc.
    But I do believe this was a wonderful way to see new thinking and get agencies across the country a shot–including mine. There were several in consideration that I’d never heard of. Might not work for every client, but it’s better than many of the ways clients generally find agencies.

  5. Yes, but it still shows the continuing imbalance. It’s unlikely this Current clown will compensate anyone until he has culled the 17 agencies. Smaller shops do not have the same resources at bigger shops, which probably even have initial RFPs filled out and ready to print. RFPs – even shitty ones – are extraordinarily time-consuming. So the smaller shops are about to be screwed by a client who – like so many traditional clients – can’t make up his mind. And this guy claims he left the agency world because he was tired of the processes and old school ways? Please. The smaller shops were/are being played.

  6. Smaller shops do not have the same resources AS bigger shops…

  7. Well, it sounds like you’re convinced the fix is in. I haven’t the foggiest idea what a Chiat or McKinney wants with Current except for prestige, since Adweek (i think) hinted the total budget for the account is about $1 million. Yes, they could flood the zone with dozens of teams and interns and do a full-on dog and pony show, but I simply can’t imagine that’s what would impress Jordan, who certainly doesn’t seem like a clown to me.
    But hey, I’m now watching from the sidelines like everyone else. Maybe someone else at an agency still in the pitch can step up and provide a inside perspective like I did.

  8. Everyone knows what an TBWA or an M! brings to the table. In this case, small shops had nothing to lose by throwing in.

  9. All the shops probably have one thing in common: they recently laid off staffers. So even $1 million will be welcome for everyone. It’s another sign of the times. The big shops are going after the assignments traditionally slated for smaller shops. To be clear, I don’t think there’s a fix. But the client didn’t level the playing field. Leveling the playing field would minimally require paying the various agencies on a percentage basis to proceed; that is, the smaller shops would receive more compensation to continue than the bigger shops.

  10. Figured I’d weigh in, not on a personal level, but just to give a sense of where things are going with the pitch. We are going to be very fair to all agencies involved at this stage. The time expenditure that will be required will be enough to help us narrow our list to a smaller set of agencies, but nothing more. We will not be asking for creative or ideas, and will take no intellectual capital from agencies with the list this large.
    I understand if you disagree with the process, and would actually be worried if nobody did. But for us, this has worked really well. This should be an open dialogue, and I hope the TwitteRFP is a catalyst for making people think differently about the 50 year old agency search system in general. Twitter is not, and should not be the answer for everyone.

  11. With all due respect, of course it’s worked really well for you. You essentially let Twitter do the work of a traditional pitch consultant. Not sure at all how you hope to weed through this hodgepodge of shops. But it’s likely you’ll go into traditional-client-seeking-agency-mode sooner than later. Good luck to you.