APCON, AAAN move to resolve pitch fee challenges in the industry

By Zion Rufus

Feelers emanating from the Nigerian marketing and advertising eco system have revealed that the controversial non-payment of pitch fees by the clients may soon become a thing of the past. MARKETING EDGE investigations has also revealed that the age-long issue that has caused some ripples between the consultant creative agencies and their clients are being closely worked upon by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria.

It will be recalled that the issue generated another heat in the sector when Perez Tigidam— a Communications & Reputation management consultant and Creative Director at Arden and Newton expressed his disaffection over the lack of pitch fee payment by the Nigerian client companies. In response to Tigidam’s frustration, AAAN President, Steve Babaeko disclosed that the umbrella advertising body, together with APCON, are currently working on the issue.

The disclosure which was made on his Twitter handle, attracted the immediate reaction and engagement of other industry experts including Tosin Adejuwon, a marketing communications professional and certified member of APCON and NIPR. Mr. Adejuwon stated that only Nigerian agencies are being taken for granted as such would never be permitted in Kenya or foreign countries.

This long standing argument as to whether clients should pay pitch fees to the agencies has stirred serious controversy in the industry.  MARKETING EDGE took the leap to garner the views of few industry experts on the issue.

In 2020 during an AGM, the Experiential Marketers’ Association of Nigeria’s (EXMAN) announced that organizations inviting experiential marketing agencies for pitch should prepare to pay N500, 000 as rejection fee to the agencies not picked. Citing a scenario, EXMAN President, Tade Adekunle said: “When you invite 17 or 18 agencies to come and pitch for a business they will only take one or two agencies and thereafter you will start seeing some of the ideas that some of the rejected agencies have given. Also, when agencies go for pitch they incur cost on research, creatives and others.”

In 2016, the AAAN tried to enforce the payment of pitch fees, and according to the former AAAN President, Mr. Kayode Oluwasona, there were cases where the body sanctioned clients for defaulting on the payments.  In 2019, the Association also declared its full support that agencies be well compensated through payment of pitch fees to augment their strategic and creative inputs.

Although it is a standard practice in some countries, it appears to be failing in the Nigerian market. The pitch fee was introduced as a way of compensating the agencies for all the efforts, non-recoverable external costs, human resources, expenses incurred, and the intellectual input channeled towards the success of the pitch.


In this regard, the Chief Executive Officer, 7even Interactive Limited, an award-winning marketing and creative advertising agency, Taiwo Agboola pointed that there was no monetary value that could be pegged or used to qualify the concepts, intellectual property and the efforts channeled towards the success of a pitch as “you can’t pay enough for concept”.

When pitching for a prospective account, agencies would use portfolio, slides, video, storyboard and other channels to review their organizational set-up, result for other clients, types of accounts, experience of personnel, specializations, and any other information pertinent to winning the account. As such, the pitching fee was to serve as compensation to the agencies.

Executive Director, Media Edge Communications, Mr. Adedotun Adebowale, opined that the enforcement of pitch fees would limit the number of agencies clients would invite. According to the marketing communications practitioner, clients would only reach out to the number of agencies they can cater for, as against inviting so many because there is no fee attached. He added that pitch fees should be a standard practice in Nigeria’s marketing communications sphere.

The AAAN has been urged to encourage agencies not to accept briefs or participate in any pitch process that do not have pitch fees attached.


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