Everything you wanted to know about pitch advisors but were afraid to ask

Pitch advisors are a new breed of consultants who are category experts, investors, and fractional chief marketing officers, who come onboard to guide brands in picking the right advertising agency.

By  Priyanka NairOct 27, 2023 8:20 AM
Everything you wanted to know about pitch advisors but were afraid to ask
Pitch advisors are familiar with agency operations, their talent, background with other clients, their capabilities, and of course, cost structures. (Representative Image: JESHOOTS.COM via Unsplash)

Indian startups are developing a different kind of pitch atmosphere, which advertising agencies view as a welcome change. Startup founders, and in some cases, legacy companies, are hiring external pitch advisors, who are intermediaries between the brand and the agency. They are a new breed of consultants who are category experts, investors, and fractional chief marketing officers, who come onboard to guide brands in picking the right agency partner.

For instance, Devaiah Bopanna, co-founder of Moonshot, a new production house, has been a pitch advisor for a while now. Bopanna gets involved in the pitch processes of brands where he has made investments, or in startups that are just beginning their brand marketing journey. “Often startups with fresh funding want to go all out with marketing. That’s a known fact. However, what is different now is many founders want to make every penny count. They want to be accountable and make sure they are taking the right decision, especially while onboarding an agency partner. That is when they approach pitch advisors,” says Bopanna.

Pitch advisors are familiar with agency operations, their talent, background with other clients, their capabilities, and of course, cost structures. Vivek Sharma, former Pidilite CMO, is now an independent marketing consultant. Sharma says experienced pitch advisors have a lot more to offer, both to the brand and the agency they decide to collaborate with. “Businesses in most cases need marketing consultants to scale and keep their growth momentum,” he adds. Both Sharma and Bopanna also say that even large-scale advertisers sometimes rope them in for a conversation during a pitch for a fresh perspective.

There are cases where pitch advisors are asked to negotiate commercials. A few years ago, independent ad film marketers had a similar role. Brands hired them to get into the nitty gritty of the agency fee. Sharma believes that if brands get pitch advisors on board for this reason, then it is counterproductive. “Pitch advisors cannot be seen as are cost reductionists,” he adds.

Creative and digital agencies that Storyboard18 spoke to indicate that one in four pitches today has an advisor on board. Pratik Gupta, co-founder, Zoo Media, opines this is a good change in the pitch process. “These advisors, whom we meet during pitches, are asking the right questions of us. They are asking us questions on return on investment and not just on creative ideas. This really helps agencies like ours to understand the brand right from the get-go,” says Gupta.

Omkar Joshi, founder of digital-first consulting shop Hybrid, has a similar view. According to Joshi, while pitch advisors help in simplifying processes, they are open to meeting startup agencies, too. “Pitch advisors help startup founders and even legacy brands navigate through problem areas much more efficiently. The direction that they map out is often convenient to pitch even if the processes take time to cover the business,” he concludes.

First Published on Oct 27, 2023 8:20 AM

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