Good Pitch Week: HSBC Global Creative Sharing

Good Pitch Week kicked off yesterday (4th November 2013) with a bang as Andrea Newman, Global Head of Advertising and Marketing Communications at HSBC took to the stage and talked us through her learnings from the bank’s recent global advertising review. Joining her to lead the session and share the agency viewpoint were Magnus Djaba, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and Joe Petyan, Executive Partner of JWT.

The review was driven by HSBC having all their eggs in one very large basket, with JWT. Despite the fact that the review was an exercise in minimising risk and run as a ‘side project’, it is heralded as great example of a ‘best practice’ pitch. After hearing these guys recall their experiences, it’s easy to see why.

Knowledge is Power

To get the best from the review, Andrea felt it was crucial the agencies understand exactly what HSBC stands for as a business so she and two of the global marketing team created a comprehensive briefing document that included details on the company, its values, principles and history. The actual strategic and operational challenges didn’t feature until the 20th page.

Working in Partnership

When it comes to pitching, an agency’s biggest bugbear can be the amount of time and money put into creative work that never sees the light of day. HSBC recognised that truly great creative work can only come from agency and client working together and duly ran the review as ‘no creative’.

Respect, compassion and understanding (features often missing from the pitch process) were key elements of the review. Each agency had regular face time, monthly Q&A sessions, an enforced shutdown over Christmas and plentiful development time. Andrea deliberately subverted the usual master/servant relationship to create a feeling of partnership between agency and client, and such was the focus on working as partners (in a pretty much unheard of move) HSBC invited the shortlisted agencies to choose their own media partners rather than enforcing their own preferences.

Open Relationships

Andrea quickly won over the audience with her openness and candour, sharing the emotional impact of the review:

‘If you have worked with people for a long time, those relationships have to be able to stand up to what you are putting them through - you have a huge responsibility to the team.’

When Saatchi & Saatchi were invited to take part, experience told Magnus that the review could fall into one of two categories. On one hand (and sadly something that happens far too often), the review could have been treated as a transaction, in which case he could expect minimal decision-maker involvement and for his services to be viewed as a commodity. He was pleased to find that the review fell very firmly into the second category and felt like the start of a beautiful relationship.

In establishing effective business relationships, we couldn’t agree more with Magnus’s sentiment that agencies just need to be themselves rather than trying to be ‘perfect’. Both Magnus and Joe found that Andrea’s transparent approach gave them the confidence to be true to themselves and present their agencies ‘warts and all’.

Joe’s presentation highlighted the ‘epic’ nature of the review. Not only did the process last for 5 ½ months but from JWT’s point of view, as the incumbent agency, they stood to lose some or all of an enormous account. Happily they were retained as a lead agency and it’s testament to Andrea’s leadership that the relationships remains strong.

7 Key Insights from the HSBC Review

  1. Focusing on the relationship rather than the work is the best way to select an agency
  2. Openness, honesty and understanding are key to good agency/client relationships
  3. Strong relationships with both sides acting as equal partners deliver the best creative work
  4. Clients warm more quickly to agencies that are true to themselves
  5. Respect and compassion get a better outcome
  6. A ‘no creative’ review doesn’t mean the pitch will be any less expensive, but the work done in its place (research and strategy planning) is likely to be more valuable
  7. The review process can be emotionally taxing for the client, especially if they have a good relationship with a long-term incumbent

Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business talks about the first in the series of events happening during The Good Pitch Week.

Further best practice advice and guidance on pitching, and highlights from the Good Pitch Week, is available at

Saatchi & Saatchi London hires Dan Treichel as Executive Creative Director


Saatchi & Saatchi London has appointed multi-award-winning creative, Dan Treichel, as its Executive Creative Director. Treichel is the creative mind behind many lauded campaigns, including the world-renowned“Climate Name Change”, which was the 7th most awarded campaign in the world in 2014. Reporting to Chief Creative Officer, Guillermo Vega, Treichel will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the creative department and for adding even more creative…

29th Saatchi & Saatchi New Creators Showcase presents the best new talent in directing and creating


This morning, the legendary Saatchi & Saatchi New Creators’ Showcase (NCS) enticed over 2,000 Cannes delegates to get out of bed and invited them to be inspired, educated and entertained.   Taking place at the Lumière Théâtre at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the show lasted 60 minutes and presented the very best, groundbreaking directorial talent from across…

Saatchi & Saatchi wins gold at DMA awards


On Tuesday 11 December, Saatchi & Saatchi London and Direct Line won a Gold at the DMA Awards for a Direct Line campaign which used data to target hundreds of thousands of existing customers with completely personalised content.   The campaign saw personalised films being served to Direct Line home insurance customers when they were around a month outside of their renewal date and showed them exactly…

Direct Line Fixer Listed in Campaign's 10 Most Effective Celebrity Campaigns


Saatchi & Saatchi London’s “Fixer” campaign for Direct Line, has been included in Campaign Magazine’s Top 10 Most Effective Celebrity Campaigns. The idea for The Fixer was born in 2013, out of research that told Direct Line that when things go wrong, people want an insurance provider who will get the problem fixed as quickly as possible. To fix the…

Guillermo Vega joins Saatchi & Saatchi London as Chief Creative Officer


Saatchi & Saatchi London has hired Guillermo Vega, the former ECD of 72andSunny New York, as its Chief Creative Officer. Joining on October 1, Vega will lead the agency’s creative department and build on its existing creative success. His appointment completes the Saatchi & Saatchi London management team, alongside Sam Hawkey (Chief Operating Officer), Richard Huntington (Chief Strategy Officer) and…

Betway appoints Saatchi & Saatchi as Lead Creative Agency


Today, Betway, the online betting, casino and sports company, has appointed Saatchi & Saatchi London as their new lead creative agency. Saatchi & Saatchi will work towards a major global campaign launch and regional roll out in 2019, supporting Betway’s growth into new markets worldwide. The creative work will be rolled out across the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Belgium and…

This Fan Girl


This week we heard from Amy Drucquer, founder of This Fan Girl. This Fan Girl is an online community dedicated to providing female football fans with a friendly and inclusive environment to watch football and create a sense of community to nurture a shared love of the sport. Amy is a lifelong fan of Leicester City Football Club. During their…

Publicis Groupe Sprintathon 2018


Publicis Groupe united on Thursday 26th July at Parliament Hills Athletics track to break the record for the world’s fastest marathon. On a sweltering 36C afternoon, over 150 Publicis Groupe employees ran 100m sprints in a relay, and finished the 26 miles in 1 hour 53 minutes and 20 seconds, breaking the record for the third fastest marathon ever. The…

Saatchi & Saatchi London wins Webby Award for 'Magenta Unleashed'


Saatchi & Saatchi London has won a Webby award in the Digital Campaign category for their ‘Magenta Unleashed’ Campaign for Deutsche Telekom. The Webby awards honour the best creative work on the internet, across seven different media types: Websites, Film & Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Social, Mobile Sites & Apps, Games, and Podcasts & Digital Audio. Each category comprises…

Saatchi & Saatchi London unveils leadership line-up


Saatchi & Saatchi London has promoted Sam Hawkey and Larissa Vince to the roles of chief operating officer and managing director respectively. Sam, who has been promoted from managing director, will lead the agency’s vision and direction, and have responsibility for its commercial performance. Larissa has been promoted from chief growth officer, and will continue to lead growth and new…