One-day offer ‘farcical’

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AUCKLAND, Today: The Comms Council is not backing away from its criticism of the pre-Xmas timing of the RFP announcement from NZ’s 16 regional councils.

Comms Council ceo Paul Head has broken off discussions with Regional Software Holdings, the outfit that represents most of the regional agencies.

“The one-day concession they offered is farcical, in my opinion,” he told M+AD on Friday.

“I didn’t believe there was any benefit in further dialogue given how close to Xmas we were and the timeframe they were operating to.

“We simply have to call out this type of behaviour when we see it. It makes a mockery of all the very constructive work that we’ve done with various branches of Government over the past decade to improve pitch processes.”

RSH comms manager Chrissie Morrison’s unconvincing attempt to soothe the ad sector crashed on takeoff: “Unfortunately,” she told Head, “we have short timeframes to turn this work around.

“I used to work for an agency so have been super sensitive to the timing and know it isn’t ideal.

“The solution we came up with still gave agencies two weeks to consider, prepare and submit their applications. We trust and respect all of those that we work with and do not expect people to forgo leave just so they can apply.

“Our proposal isn’t big; it’s $60,000.

“I used to work for an agency so have been super sensitive to the timing and know it isn’t ideal.”

“We are comfortable with the level of enquiry we have already received from interested agencies of high calibre and are aware of others who are considering applying.

“Some of these are agencies that already work with our 16 regional and unitary councils. We could have simply just sent our request for quote to these parties, however thought opening it up through GETS might offer other agencies an opportunity to work with our sector.”

Earlier, Head had issued this Comms Council statement: “A pitch this close to Christmas would be bad enough in a normal year – but in an environment where agencies have had to make people redundant due to the pandemic and the remaining staff are exhausted and need a break, it’s absolutely beyond the pale”

“The Comms Council has worked closely with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet over the past decade to improve procurement practices and outcomes for both Government departments and advertising agencies. This has included working cooperatively with Government to define best practice for both parties, based on a set of underlying principles, including mutual respect.

“This process shows a lack of respect for the agency relationship and takes no account of the cost to individuals or their families of having to work over the holidays. It’s certainly not in keeping with the Prime Minister’s call to be kind to each other.

“It’s also likely that a number of agencies that would normally participate in a pitch of this nature will choose to boycott it out of concern for their people. Others will not have the luxury of doing so despite the size of the prize only being $60,000.

“The problem here for the local councils is that they might not get the best solution to their challenge.

“Ultimately” says Head, “agencies need to make their own call on whether to participate, but they should seriously consider whether it’s worth putting their people through more hoops at this late stage of the year.”

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