Rogue advertisers abuse ownership of pitch ideas

10 months ago

Last year, the 4As (Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia) took a stand against advertisers’ push to own pitch ideas. Marketing experts and related industry bodies supported the caution and it sparked positive conversations on the issue.

But despite 4As’ concerted efforts in alliance with the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA), they have continued to receive disturbing reports that certain advertisers – though they are not MAA members – are still persisting in the inclusion of unethical demand clauses in their request-for-proposals (RFP) documents, such as:

“All materials submitted in response to this RFP become the sole property of the Advertiser”
“All submissions for the RFP are not returnable and shall become the property of the Client”

Khairudin Rahim, CEO of 4As said in a statement as follows…….

“Beyond reiterating our previous statement that such clauses are unethical and unfair, we have also legally been advised that these clauses are impotent and ineffective from a legal standpoint, as they do not provide a binding relationship between the Agency and the Advertiser in a situation of a service being provided where no formal contract or letter of appointment has yet to be signed.

A pitch for all intents and purposes is an offer to provide a service to the Advertiser or Client. Unless the Advertiser is acceptable to this offer with an agreed consideration to be passed, ownership of the intellectual property (IP) remains with the Advertising Agency.

The 4As has therefore reminded agencies not to participate in any RFPs containing these conditions. Our stand has always been – and will continue to be that Agencies should learn when to say “no” to such unfair demands.

We further urge CEOs of Advertiser companies to be aware of the details of their RFPs, and place an immediate stop to this unethical practice.

We at the 4As ask for mutual respect between Advertisers and Agencies. The growth and development of our industry depends on Advertisers and Agencies health and mutual co-existence.

Finally, the 4As is always ready to provide assistance, and we have developed a best practice guide relating to ownership of Agency developed ideas, plans and work created for an RFP, which is readily available on the 4As website.”

Further assistance is also available through contacting Kandesh at the 4As secretariat via or call (03) 7660 8535.


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