Did you see the premier of AMC’s new series “The Pitch” last night? It was a double premier.
In the first hour, agencies from NYC and Las Vegas pitched for a Waste Management assignment; in the second, it was LA against Durham, NC. The Pitch is real and the business an agency can win is real. AMC has ordered eight episodes.
The show’s pretty good, at least to this industry vet. I’m not so sure that it’ll appeal to a mass audience, but who knows? So much on TV is a complete mystery to me, from Jersey Shore to the caterwauling contest called “The Voice”.
I still get excited thinking about a big marketing pitch.
I’ve lived through many a pitch, some just for the direct marketing business (which is rarely, and should never be, a creative shootout), and some with general advertising partners like TBWA, Saatchi & Saatchi and J Walter Thompson (JWT).
Our agency doesn’t pitch anymore. We stopped when I realized that a lot of clients were using the pitch process to get free ideas. I thought of pitching again a couple of years ago but the paperwork you have to fill out in advance puts the FDA’s new-drug paperwork to shame.
Our business often comes after people hear me speak.
Then they call us and new business develops from simple conversations with potential clients. Some are referrals, some come out of the blue, and some we find ourselves by reaching out.
We get a lot of inquiries from financial companies. They all say they can’t do anything too edgy or they’ll lose credibility. Some want to try a new approach but stay conservative – in other words, do exactly what they’re doing now, only different.
Banks, brokers and insurance companies aren’t the only tippy-toers. We spoke to a restaurant owner last week who said you cannot do anything unique for a restaurant. Maybe I’ll show him the new ad for the Four Seasons in New York that talks about how unique the restaurant is and why it’s worth the high prices. Despite its bad grammar and some misspellings, it’s not a bad ad.
This ad for Smith and Wollensky has some interesting Kenneth Cole type copy and simple graphics. It works.
I’m always hoping that our next new client will take a chance, like the CMO of Subway, Tony Pace, did when he hired the agency that had found a rapper who had gone viral on YouTube. They even brought the guy to The Pitch for a freestyle rap. They took a chance, and it worked.
Oh, how I wish Subway will call us for marketing programs.
If you’re about to become some agency’s next great client (especially ours), I hope that:
1. You care passionately about your company.
2. You give the strategic planners and creative folks a chance to do work that might seem weird to you; it doesn’t have to appeal to you personally unless you personify the target audience. You can always pull it back a bit. Free swinging thinking often results in amazing revenue.
3. You test carefully without worrying too much about the budget. Worry about the upside, not the downside.
If you can do that, we can deliver terrific ads that will do two wonderful things: build your business and make your brand memorable.