Earlier this week, I sat down to see what all the fuss was about and watched the pilot of “The Pitch.” If you haven’t heard of it, “The Pitch” is a show/series on AMC that features two agencies (for each show) battling it out to win a new account. Agency folks will certainly relate to the pressure and emotions seen in the show. It’s pretty insider-baseball (at least the first show was), but I kinda liked it. After all, who doesn’t like laughing at advertising people? (I kid, I kid)
In all seriousness, the show was pretty good. I’m curious to see what other agencies they feature in the episodes that start on Monday, April 30 on AMC (and hopefully soon after on Netflix, since I don’t have DISH anymore).
As I watched the show, I did have a few thoughts and reactions from a PR pro’s perspective. I should note I don’t have a big agency background. I’ve worked for a couple agencies in my day, but they were both smaller–and they were shorter stints (both inside two years). So, I’m probably not the guy with the best perspective on this topic–but I certainly have an opinion 🙂
Here are my thoughts–in no particular order:
Advertising…still all about the “creative”
As an industry, advertising has always been about the creative. And, that came through loud and clear in the pilot. In fact, I don’t think they featured even one account person in the whole pitch (and the president of the firm was merely a side character). It was all about the creative directors, copywriters and art directors. After all, that’s what agencies sell–ideas, right? Personally, I thought there was a bit too much focus on the “creative”–and not enough on the strategy piece (much like PR, that’s not helping the advertising industry). But that will probably change in future episodes.
Captured the intensity of the pitch process
Again, disclaimer: I’m not a career agency guy, so I’m probably not the authority on this, but I’ve been through a number of pitches on the consultant side and I thought the show captured that intensity and pressure fairly well. Your fuse gets shorter as you get closer the pitch. You say and do things you don’t normally do–given the pressure (we saw that in the pilot). That should, and I’m sure will be, a big part of future episodes since that’s where the emotion of TV kicks in.
No risk–no reward
In the pilot, you could tell who was going to win the pitch. McKinney (the Durham, N.C. agency) was tinkering around with this rap idea. A copywriter had discovered a guy on YouTube that was rapping about breakfast. They decided to bring him in to write a rap about Subway. It killed at the pitch. Then, they took it a step further and brought in the the rapper to perform, live at the pitch. Knocked it out of the park. Huge risk though, right? What if the guy stumbled? What if he didn’t show up? Lots of “what ifs”? But, in the end, they took the risk. And it paid off. They won the business. The lesson? Big rewards sometimes require big risks. Don’t be afraid to take one.
A lack of business strategy/thinking
The client in the pilot, Subway, did everything but call this out in the actual pitch sessions. It was obviously absent from the discussions during the pitch. Where was the business strategy? The agencies simply sat down and went right into “the creative.” Cool, but I’m guessing the CMO of Subway probably wanted to hear how it tied back to their larger marketing strategy. Now, maybe they edited that piece out (actually, pretty likely). After all, that’s not too sexy. But, I thought it was worth noting. Also, business strategy/results didn’t come up too much in the pre-pitch discussions on the agency side either. As Bill Simmons says, “worth noting.”
Did you see the pilot? What did you think? Looking forward to the new episodes next Monday?