Canadian Marketing Association discourages spec work during RFP process in updated Code of Ethics
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The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) has updated its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which includes a section on agency search principles.


"Agency Search Principles," or Section P of the Code, provides seven best practices that CMA "members and their third-party procurement partners should follow to support professionalism and fairness in the industry, for the benefit of clients, agencies and the Canadian industry."


Divided into four sections, the principles cover what information should be given in an RFP, the requirements of an RFP, suitable communication during the RFP process and the results notification process.


Importantly, the Section addresses requests for speculative work in RFPs. Overall, the CMA discourages spec requests during the RFP process, but notes that if an agency is expected to work on a real project, they should be:

  • only asked to work on one aspect of the project, not the entire project,
  • given a non-disclosure and non-use agreement to sign, and
  • compensated based on a previously established agreement if their work will be used.


The CMA is also developing an Agency Search Toolkit, which will provide public and member-specific resources in regards to procurement and RFPs. The Toolkit will offer a more in-depth explanation of the CMA's seven agency search principles, principles for searches within the non-profit sector and for communications/PR agencies and guidelines for preparing an effective procurement brief.


The CMA's updated Code with Section P is available for download here.


Similarly, RGD prohibits all of its Members from participating in spec work, and actively advocates against requests for spec for design projects.