22 September 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Advertising agencies must be transparent about the creative process, the British Airways procurement director said at a CIPS seminar in London last week.
Silla Maizey was speaking as the airline was assessing pitches from firms bidding for its £60-million-a-year advertising contract, held by M&C Saatchi for the past 21 years.
Maizey said: "I think with PR, advertising and marketing agencies, it suits them to think they are so different that procurement can't make an assessment." And she added: "If the creative process is secret, we won't see it."
She urged bidders: "Show us what value looks like, because we will make a judgement on what the picture is telling us.
"I am interested in changing the balance between risk and reward. If they can link performance of creativity with business performance, then that can only be a good thing."
But Tina Fegent, commercial director at marketing agency Lowe, disagreed with Maizey's assessment: "Marketing is different because it is much more customer-focused.
"Marketing people are very close to the heart of a business. More so than suppliers of pencils, auditing firms or lawyers are," she said.
Meanwhile, Maizey remained tight-lipped about the airline's £100-million-a-year deal with troubled caterer Gate Gourmet.
"We are confident that we will get through this, but we are still not there," she said.Asked if the airline's procurement team would do anything different in the future in the light of lessons learned from the saga, Maizey said: "All my team are very professional, do a good job and will continue to do a good job in the future."