Free Pitches and Everything Alike


Over the time, we often came across potential clients that wanted us to do free pitches (or beauty contests). And over the time, we always declined, and we never give out samples of our work unless the project is a deal. Why? Well, this will be a quite long post, so brace yourselves.

There are a lot of articles in the internet about why we shouldn’t take any part on free pitches. One of our favorites is here. Of course, you can find tons of them in Google, but we’d like to take this chance to share on my opinion why we definitely shouldn’t take on free pitches.

Certain companies will often persuade us to take part on this unethical business practice with many, many reasons. Some say that this is an attempt to see whether our design style fits theirs, some say that this is to conform with the practice of Good Corporate Governance, some treated us as if they’re buying off a pack of blank CDs in Mangga Dua… No stuff, no money. Let’s discuss this three main reasons one by one.

To See If Our Design Style Fits Them
Let us put it this way. We have our collection of portfolio, easily accessible on the internet. Chances are that clients wanted to use our services because they like our portfolio, which, of course, have our style implanted all over it. So, does a test drive really necessary to see what our style is like? No. It’s just a lame excuse. One of the nastiest things they would do is steal off your design sample, and give it to a cheaper designer to finish the job off. In conclusion, steal someone’s design, don’t pay them, use cheaper services with that design, pay them. Good value? Yes. Good ethics? Not at all.

To Conform with the Practice of Good Corporate Governance
Over the years, we’ve come to realize that Good Corporate Governance requires a company to invite several designers to bid for a project. This is to make sure that there are no corruptions, collusion, or nepotism involved. I agree completely. But Good Corporate Governance DOES NOT require that company to have the invited designers give out samples of the future project. IT IS A BID. It involves only giving out quotations and terms of work, not unpaid samples. Of course, some honest companies would probably really do this whole free pitch properly, but we’re sure that some companies would steal off our design and, again, use some cheap designer to finish the work. Besides that, we think we all agree that ethically, designers that have been invited for a pitch should get paid equally to the amount of work they do for research and designing the sample (which we won’t be able to sell to other companies anyway, should we lose the pitch). This is the practice they use in most countries but here.

They Treated Us As If They’re Buying a Pack of Blank CDs
Well, we don’t think I could explain much here. Clients like this are just a group of people that we shouldn’t be servicing at all. Even fast food restaurants require you to pay first before having the meal. We don’t see any reason why we should respect clients like this.

So why shouldn’t we take part in a free pitch? Easy. First of all, it will cost us irreplaceable time and effort. Remember that we need to do research prior to designing things, that will of course cost us some time and effort. Free pitches will not guarantee that you will get paid equally. Free pitching is just a polite way of stealing. Some companies admitted that they don’t practice free pitching, but if they did one of those three above with a designer, and then they decided not to use that designer, and then perform the whole process again with a new designer, wouldn’t that count as the same practice as well? YES.

Some designers would probably disagree with us on this, as large design firms or agencies often participate in free pitches and yet they survive. I’d say, they just didn’t realize that they’re ruining their own industry. Maybe they could afford to free pitch financially, but ethically? They are just as bad as the clients. How can supporting people who steal or corrupt be good?