« Back

What “The Pitch” Really Says About Our Industry.

May 16, 2012

Like many of us in the world of marketing, I am sure you were at least interested to view AMC’s newest offering. Called The Pitch, it is a weekly TV series created to follow two advertising agencies (I resisted calling them marketing firms, more on that later.) that have been “invited” to pitch for new assignments from volunteer prospective clients (to date: a Subway breakfast roll-out, a Waste Management corporate positioning platform a tri-brand assignment from Clockwork Home Services…Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating and Mister Sparky and a San Francisco-based snack company PopChips.)

It begins with the two agencies receiving the assignment from the client, in the same room together…so that we can see the close-ups of darting, suspicious eye-rolling and questioning credibility from one agency to the other, checking each other out across the conference room table. Exciting. Oh? I could hardly contain myself.

Each agency is given a week to respond. Imagine? A whole week? Which just goes to show you how much the client appreciates well-thought out, well-researched, well planned marketing partners. A whole week…wow…there’ll be some great ideas – given that every one has a whole seven days (counting travel to and from the long distance clients, btw) to solve the marketing mystery. Edge of my seat.

The producers must have thought this was cool to put the pressure on the shops. Good TV? Maybe? Well, we’ll see. Bad marketing and advertising, for sure.

Now cut to each agency, meeting with mostly hundreds of agency people, all jammed into one room while some ego-driven, posturing creative director (or two) and a swell-talking president or chief operating officer tells everyone (everyone!) of the assignment. Everyone’s involved. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute. Come on guys, let’s win this one. We want ideas, we want them fast, we want you to stretch yourself, be risky and get creative. Because apparently last week, we weren’t creative…so this week we are going to be creative.

And everyone better work real hard and stay late and look like you give a crap. Or else!

In fact, one agency actually confiscated everyone’s cell phones and made everyone stay for a 24-hour period, a “no breaks” jam session. Yes, they really did that. Took their cell phones. Of course, I am sure that the office phones, the laptops, I-pads and notebooks were just forgotten or ignored.

Hey. We’re making a point here! We are committed.

And then the “produced” hilarity and angst begins: Arguments, challenges, stupid ideas, brainless suggestions, dumb-founded expressions, lots of paper on the walls, slogans out the wazoo, comped-up ideas, thousands of logos, stolen thoughts from You Tube, crazy ‘off-the-wall’ concepts, smoking, nerves, confusion, coffee, cat fights, underhanded criticisms and competition between employees.

Gee. What a wonderful industry. I am so proud.

Interesting to note, so far no one mentioned brand development or honoring the client’s brand promise. That isn’t what this is all about. And strategy is just a word to toss out to sound smarter.

You see…what The Pitch is really all about is to cement in the TV viewer’s mind that his or her perception about our industry was correct all along.

Just a bunch of loud mouthed egomaniacs, sitting in a room coming up with ideas until someone (usually whoever is in charge) finally wears everybody else down or time runs out and they have to do something, anything.

Then they all jump on a plane, and go “pitch” the ideas to the client, mostly unrehearsed and unprofessionally. Reading off of sheets of paper with no emotion, rambling to just hear themselves talk, talking too much and not listening enough, showing videos without checking too see if they work, if the Internet connection works or the volume is on, sniping at each other during the meeting, in front of the client. Stuff like that.

See America? It is just as you expected. Anybody can do this, ain’t no big thing.

All the while the client sits there, sometimes looking like they would rather be at an execution of a loved one and eventually they have to stand up, say good job and we’ll get back to you.

(I bet what they are really saying is ‘why did we agree to do this to our brands. Now we have to use some of this drivel’.)

Then the reveal. Two agencies waiting, only one can “win”. Who is it going to be? Tension. Questioning. Second thoughts. Should’a. Could’a.

Cut to the winner. Yeah. Smiles.

Cut to the loser. Boo. Frowns.

The end.

Of a lot more that this TV show.

By Tom Traynor

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.