Grinchy Marketers Give Agencies Post-Holiday Deadlines

Last December, Possible CEO Shane Atchison was gearing up for a holiday break – the WPP digital shop shuts down between Christmas and New Year's – until an undisclosed marketer put a damper on those plans.

A "dream brand" had sent an RFP for a digital agency-of-record opportunity, asking for responses by Jan 1. "I personally had very little anguish. I did not even tell anyone at our agency," he told Ad Age. "I picked up the phone, called the client and simply said that while this is our dream opportunity, we are not going to be able to respond in the timeline." It wouldn't be the agency's best work and besides, the shop frowns upon working over the holidays, he told the marketer. The executive was impressed and gave Possible a 10-day extension. The shop ultimately won the business.

Marketers who set tight pitch and project deadlines around the holidays are generally par for the course in the service industry. According to various agencies, these past two weeks were slightly lighter on last-minute RFPs than usual, and a few marketers even noted that they were extending response deadlines to the end of January to respect agencies' time off.

Sometimes the year-end hustle is unavoidable, such as a use-it-or-lose-it budget or a retailer digging itself out of the pre-holiday rush to finally find time to review. But agencies are more often left wondering what's driving the timing.

"I'd say it's not a Grinch-like attitude as much as trying to get it off the plate before holiday," said Ken Robinson, co-founder of search consultancy Ark Advisors. "We've gotten a lot of RFPs in the last five days. [Marketers] know they close and assume agencies don't. It's often a misunderstanding of agency schedules." Like Mr. Atchison, he thinks agencies should stand their ground. "Agencies can say we'd like to extend the deadline," he said. "Most often clients will say you're right."

Read the entire article on AdAge here.

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