21 June 2007 | Antony Barton
It may be unpopular but the method for its procurement was sound, according to design experts who have hit back at criticism of the procedure used to select the controversial London 2012 logo.
Chris Townsend, commercial director of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), said it hired designer Wolff Olins without seeing any draft designs for the £400,000 logo. Locog instead based its decision on the reputation and body of work of four contenders over a 13-week competition.
But design experts say this approach can save buyers time without extra risk. Marina Palomba, legal director at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), supports this method. On submitting detailed materials, she said: "It's a waste of management time for the client and it's a massive investment by creative agencies, possibly for no reward. Millions of pounds are wasted each year in this way."
She said design buyers should make a shortlist of agencies they wish to choose from by looking at a template of qualifications. They should then look at past work to see if they can meet the design brief. The Locog brief remains confidential.
Deborah Dawton, chief executive of the Design Business Association (DBA), added designers should have the opportunity to question the brief with the client. She said asking for rough drafts was "like asking them to come up with a solution when they haven't even diagnosed the problem".
Kevin Ritchie, a purchasing consultant at National Building Society, who helped set up the process to procure creative freelancers said: "Designers have flexibility in their approach to work and procurement people need to trust that and adapt."
Dawton said buyers can be unfairly criticised because people think "they're used to buying widgets, not services". Yet she adds there is a need to guide those "who are one day asked to purchase furniture and the next day asked to purchase designs".
In view of this, CIPS and the DBA will run a course in November to explain the role of procurement in design. Topics will include the design industry, how to write a good brief and how to measure effectiveness. Last year, CIPS, IPA and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers published the Magic and Logic
white paper, identifying how agencies, buyers and marketing can best work together.