Thirty-seven agencies have pitched for the Industrial Development Corp (IDC) advertising account. The account is currently held by Ebony & Ivory, a small, independent Johannesburg agency headed by Paul Middleton.
IDC marketing executive Sisa Mbuli says the existing agreement with Ebony & Ivory, which is understood to be among the bidding agencies, will expire in June. The state-owned corporation hopes to narrow the field to a short list of 10 by the end of this month.
The IDC account is estimated to be worth about R20m annually in above-the-line, traditional advertising. Most is aimed at alerting various industries to the IDC’s potential as a strategic investment partner.
It’s not a big account but industry sources say many of SA’s best-known agencies are in the mix. According to one, over 100 agencies expressed initial interest. Before Ebony & Ivory, the account was run by the country’s biggest, Draftfcb.
Mbuli says state bodies are required to put advertising accounts to tender every three years. Others in the industry take a different view. They say the requirement is merely to review accounts, and that to routinely invite tenders discourages long-term strategic planning by marketers and ad agencies.
In the case of the IDC, they say the account has been “ticking over” since the beginning of 2010. “Ideally, for any organisation there should be a five-year strategic plan,” says a senior ad industry figure. “But if you know, as the agency, that your contract is only for three years and the last six months will be spent second-guessing what the client wants during the new pitch process, it’s difficult to take a long-term view.”