The Pitch on AMC

The Pitch Season 2- and why we won’t waste time on it Discuss 0

The Pitch Logo AMC tvWe had high hopes for the AMC series “The Pitch” when it debuted last year. We thought we’d try our hand at a little social media leverage by previewing each episode- with predictions, analyze the client, the agencies, and then do a post show discussion video review. It took up time- it generated some traffic, we made a few connections with some cool people like Mark DiMassimo of DIGO- but, overall, we were highly disappointed with the show and the manipulative editing- and the insanity of the short pitch process. Turns out, the agencies that participated last year didn’t want anything to do with it this year- and for good reason, most of the clients weren’t sophisticated enough to either have a good brief- or the good sense that this is nothing other than an expensive PR stunt- that was watched by a very small audience.

Our recommendations to improve the show included having someone – preferably an outsized ad personality like Jerry Della Femina, as a host- who would work with the client to help guide the process, and provide some consistency from episode to episode. Studio Lambert apparently didn’t change anything- only this time, there isn’t an agency on the roster that we’ve heard of. Last year, they had Wong/Doody now known as WC/CW, BooneOakley, DIGO and the AdStore (2x) – which gave the show a little credibility. Here is the PR from AMC- but, we decided to make the post useful- by adding links- so you can investigate each on your own:

Season 2 consists of eight one-hour episodes and is premiering Thu., Aug. 15 at 10/9c.

Brands to be featured in season two include:

Agencies to be featured in Season 2 include:

via The Pitch – AMC Blog – AMC.

The Ad Age article talks about how many big agencies and networks turned down the offer to be on the show. They say “The most recognizable on the list is Commonground, a gold winner in Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year competition last year” but, I guess that being a gold winner in their competition is like winning a local ADDY- it means something to the shop and the client- but not anyone else (we’ve won our share).

If we had a ton of time, we’d try to figure out what the annual marketing budgets were for each of these clients- our guess is that 1-800 Flowers and Little Caesars lead the pack and “College Hunks Hauling Junk” are one step above flyers at Kinko’s.

I’d love to say that when we were looking at the sites- that one stuck out as amazingly good- but, nothing grabbed us except how bad  the “Heavenspot” site was. OneX looked interesting, only in that they feature a really funky building in their about video.

It would also seem that agencies that focus on multi-cultural got a little more representation this season, maybe thanks to the spot that Muse Communications did called “White Space.” Not that advertising is any less of a “Caucasian occasion” for most of the industry.

It seems like the show also avoided filming in NYC, probably because of the higher costs. Chicago, Nashville, LA for this season. As soon as we find the matchups and the episode numbers we’ll post.

“The Pitch” review: Marriott Autograph Collection, Bandujo vs Jones Advertising Discuss 2 Comments


For this discussion of the season finale (and maybe the final show, since the ratings were horrible) we invited one of our friends to sit in. Larry C. Price is a 2x Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and our go to guy when it comes to world travel (although he often ends up living in places most of us wouldn’t go even if we were paid to go there).

The client, The Autograph Collection by Marriott should have been one of the simpler challenges on the show. Marriott is a well known hospitality brand and the Autograph Collection is a their entry into the 4 and 5 star luxury boutique hotel market. The client asked for an awareness campaign that ideally works globally.

In our predictions post, we chose Bandujo, based purely on what we saw on their site. As usual, we never trust the editing by Studio Lambert to give us enough insight to really understand the strategy and development of the pitch, nor do we accept that what we saw was all that was presented. Luckily, Bundujo was better prepared than most of the other agencies who’ve come before and posted a complete synopsis of the work they presented (Bozell did the same from episode 6, WCDW did a bit from Episode 1).

We’ve seen an agency chief try the hail Mary concept delivery before when Conversation’s leader gave his my way or the highway “the worlds longest viral video” solution for PopChips. We thought that idea sucked (as did some of his staff), but the client bought it. Clients seem to like to see fully finished “turnkey” pitches on this show, which says more about the clients level of savvy. This time, Jones Advertising went over the top with hiring a film crew to produce his spec spot on an idea he came up with right after the brief- without consulting his creative team. It was an expensive lesson in humility when the client wrote off his brilliance as tired and predictable. We also learned that he was in over his head- as he was caught on camera getting schooled by the production people he hired. In the actual pitch, we got a hint of a secondary campaign “Stay Independent” which from an initial reaction was more on target, but could be an issue for Marriott as the brands owner which isn’t “independent” and as people pointed out on twitter- Stay You is the new Holiday Inn campaign). Although both agency owners thought so much of themselves that they named their shops after themselves (it’s amazing how many “brand builders” are this shallow) clients aren’t hiring one person, they are hiring a complete team of people. Why have a team if you don’t use them?

Jose Bandujo takes pride in coming from the client side and treating his staff as his clients. While it may work for his shop, we’ve always preferred a collaborative leader than an autocratic one. Critique is fine, but bring something back to the table. And while it may make for cute TV, inviting your friends over for brunch and talking to them while cameras roll is not a focus group. The “Make Some _________” campaign really didn’t tie back to either the luxury or the uniqueness of the brand, but given the choice between the heavy handed, over produced Jones Advertising epic spot, this campaign started to look good. We believe it’s great to show your clients or even potential clients, what’s wrong with their current site, but, doing it on national TV probably wasn’t the smartest move. What’s more amazing is that this critique was coming from the shop that doesn’t even maintain a twitter account.

In our discussion we kept coming back to something that Mark Jones said while sitting in the lobby of the Carlton- that all of these hotels not only are very photogenic, they all have a deeper story. Had he realized that these boutique hotels are usually driven by history or the vision of a impresario hotelier- and worked the stories into a campaign along with stunning imagery, he might have won. One of the interesting things about hotel advertising, is that despite the room is where you spend your time as a guest, the outside of the hotel has been the focus of print ads for hotels for good reason. Consumers buy the magic of the packaging- not always the product inside.

The reason these hotels have joined the Autograph Collection is to add marketing reach, booking tools, rewards points- which is easy for Marriott to provide, but this assignment is about adding value to the collection. Marriott is already a trusted brand, how will the campaign for these specialty hotels add mystique, lust and prestige to the consumers triggers when picking a place to stay? We didn’t think the “Make Some ______” gave the emotional cues needed to convey the one-of-a-kind brand experience that the customer is looking for.

Once again to improve this show we need, more than a week, more than two agencies and a search consultant to make sure the agencies have the tools to tackle the assignment effectively and make the show a better representation of how real advertising is done.

This will be it for our reviews of TV shows, but if you are holding a review to pick your agency of record, we’d love to talk to you. However, we won’t engage in an unpaid pitch, we value our intellectual capital more than the agencies we’ve seen on the show. Review our work, consider the budgets we were working with and stop in and meet the people you’ll be working with. Are we the kind of people you want to work with? Do you like the way we analyze your business problem? You’ve got 8 episodes of us discussing pitches to judge us by. You decide.

Thanks to all who’ve visited and connected with us. Special thanks to new friends, Steven Crutchfield and Paul Cappelli from The Ad Store and Mark DiMassimo from DIGO Brands, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Please consider following us on Twitter @thenextwave

UPDATE: Here is the extended podcast of our discussion.

 

The Pitch: Episode 8, Marriott: Bandujo vs Jones predictions Discuss 3 Comments


Our last prediction post. One more episode to go, at least until season 2 (just kidding). We may be the minority here, but we have stuck with this show for its entirety. For those keeping tabs, we have been 2 for 7 with our predictions.

Onto our analysis – the final episode features Bandujo Advertising (?not on Twitter?) and Jones Advertising @jonesads competing for Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The Autograph Collection is one of the biggest accounts on the show:

The Autograph Collection is a remarkable group of upper upscale and luxury independent hotels. These iconic properties are located in dynamic gateway cities and preferred destinations worldwide. Each one is unique, one of a kind and with its own distinct perspective.

From the Marriott site.

There’s only thirty-four of these boutique hotels in the hippest cities across the globe. According to the teaser, the brief is to build awareness for the Autograph Collection. Marriott has been expanding this relatively new luxury line of hotels (started in 2010) by acquisition or marketing agreements of designer hotels across the globe. They hope to have 60 by years end. The room rates are generally premium and a big part of Marriott’s rewards program. Marriott is attracting hotel owners to join in this nameplate by not enforcing strict brand rules- allowing local hotelier visionaries to have access to an international marketing and booking system, while keeping their unique character intact.

From watching the teaser, not that we trust any of the editing of the show or the teasers, this episode looks to have a lot of drama. In our office, we consider drama to be the enemy of creativity, so don’t expect brilliance from either shop in the whirlwind 1 week prep time frame.

Reviewing each agency’s website, they both have plugs for The Pitch. Bandujo features it prominently on the top of their site while Jones has a subtle post about it in their news section. Jones appears to focus on video and production in their portfolio and with a lot of Seattle based clients. They have an adorable ad for PetSmart. Bandujo draws New York-based companies, and have a few public service announcement ads that are shockingly effective.

Neither agency seems to be particularly web-savvy on their own, with little searchable content. Jones has a twitter account that’s been mostly ignored, Bandujo doesn’t seem to have one at all. Budujo has two “partner” firms- one a digital shop and the other is an interior designer which is a bit different, but may help with hooking into the hoteliers. They’ve also done work for Conde Naste- and Disney Vacation club, hinting at a bit more hospitality/lifestyle awareness.

Would either of these agencies be first choice of a luxury hotel brand? Probably not. DIGO from episode 7 had worked with Hard Rock, and there were probably other agencies that I’d trust more from the series with this account. McKinney had Audi for a few years, The Ad Store’s Paul Cappelli is pretty worldly and did well on his two appearances to those of us in the industry. As we’ve said all along, a good agency search consultant would be a huge plus to this show, along with giving the agencies a bit more time to develop their pitches.

For our prediction, we’re going to go with Bandujo. From a review of their work they seem to be better suited for Marriott as well as being a NY firm for a client in Bethesda Maryland. That being said, we haven’t had the best record of predicting these episodes.

Considering we actually liked episode 7, here’s to hoping that this final episode is the best one of the season. Look for our post show review to be posted by Tuesday night.

The Pitch, Episode 7 WomanK!nd vs DIGO for C. Wonder review Discuss 3 Comments

The poll numbers have an even split between DIGO and Womankind

This is as close as it gets

What was billed as the battle of the sexes made for the most interesting, best balanced show so far. For the first time the AMC poll on “who should have won” numbers were close to an even split, and the amount of editing drama was minimal. We’ve come to the absolute conclusion that watching the show actually hurts your odds of picking the winning agency every time due to the editing, but that aside, this show generated some of the most interesting discussion among our team on what went right in this pitch.

The fact that both agencies were based in NYC as well as the client set the stage for what we believe is the most important part in picking an agency: client site visits. Before you ever hire an ad agency, take it upon yourself to drop in and see if it’s the kind of place you’d like to hang out, and are these the people you’d want to work with.

As stated in the show by Vicki Brakl of Womenkind, hiring an agency is a lot like a marriage. Compatibility is key for a lasting productive relationship. C. Wonder CEO Chris Burch has been through selecting an agency before and knew to do this. While the editors didn’t show us much of the visits, we’re pretty sure this was a key part of helping Burch make his decision.

Both agencies trotted out a visual feast for the pitch. Big boards from WomanK!nd (who stressed when they realized some of their boards had the period after the “C” in the client logo- unnecessarily, since when we’re watching the show the client doesn’t always have it either) with the big green doors on one side- and the concepts on the other. DIGO brought print and video and who knows what else. In this case, it wasn’t so much how much you brought- but which agency listened carefully to the brief: a single idea to raise awareness and interest for NEW customers for C. Wonder.

Despite Burch hating the DIGO tagline use of the word “mood”- the idea of a single concept as opposed to a bunch of tactical moves including in-store use of touch screens in the dressing rooms to a crm/loyalty program is what the client said won him over.

We think it probably goes a little deeper. The first strategic fail by WomanK!nd was not having the principals at the brief. This is a CEO who wants to talk to the top of the firm, mano-a-mano and DIGO made the right move sending the named partners to both meetings.

Despite running a womens fashion chain, many viewers pegged Burch as a misogynist and compared him to Donald Trump on Twitter for his direct and forward style. Of course, to New Yorkers, Burch isn’t anything out of the ordinary and both firms probably enjoyed his candid answers and felt his questioning kept them sharp and on task. What was clear was that Burch wasn’t new to the building of a brand; he had already done this for his x-wife’s business, Tory Burch. He was a veteran and while the in store tactics that Womank!nd presented might have been great and impressed viewers, this was a guy who wants to build an empire fast- and as Mark DiMassimo says after getting the brief- “We’re built for this.” DIGO has it all over their site that they want to work with brands that want to grow- and C. Wonder was a nearly perfect fit for their agency.

In our predictions post we picked DIGO to win by a wide margin- but, even after watching we were split on who would win. Both agencies could have done great work for the client, but in the end, it probably came down to the agency that sold itself best to the client got the job.

Final words by Lee Goldstein (the GO of DIGO) were that you were buying the agency and how they thought- not what they came up with in “The Pitch”- and to that, we say “Amen.”

Here’s the full podcast of our conversation:

 

The Pitch: Episode 7, C. Wonder: Digo vs Womankind predictions Discuss 2 Comments

In this episode of The Pitch we have a women’s fashion retailer based in NYC as the client:

C. Wonder is a shopping destination that transports women into a world of luxury and surprises. Created to deliver brightness to every corner of life, C. Wonder offers an entirely new retail experience: clothing, accessories and home decor products of outstanding quality and astonishing value in a setting that excites and inspires.

via Our Story.

And two New York agencies battling for the assignment: an innovative, thoughtful disruptive campaign. The client says “I want you to give me what the girl who walks into my store wants” in the preview, which already hints of a confrontational style client.

Background on the client - this is the brainchild of J. Christopher Burch, the venture capitalist who was married and is now divorced from the fashion designer Tory Burch- who has her own chain of stores selling her upscale “preppy-Bohemium” styles- which apparently appeal to a wide cross-section of women and have the Oprah stamp of approval. Her X- still sits on her companies board of directors, but is now going head to head with her- and other high end fashion houses with C. Wonder stores. Apparently the C. either stands for his first name- or if you watch this Bloomberg video, for made in China.

Fashion is fickle business- that lends itself to bold, stunk driven advertising. Ogilvy famously added intrigue to the Hathaway shirt brand with a guy with an eye-patch, Kenneth Cole and Benneton have both done in your face politically incorrect advertising, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie have both been questioned for taste with campaigns that resembled kiddie porn and George Lois put Tommy Hilfiger on the map by comparing his fashion to the well known greats. Fashion is THE business for agencies that can come up with the so called “big idea” and present it confidently.

In this episode we have WomanKind which we met briefly in Episode 5 for Frangelico when the Ad Store guys went over to visit to test their “sweet spot” concept with women- who quickly told them that it’s a feminine hygiene product. The ECD of the Ad Store is married to the CEO of Womankind. You can follow them on Twitter @womankind A perfectly competent agency, like Muse of the last episode who was just a multi-cultural shop, they wrap their agency as a specialist in advertising to women- a one trick pony. Even their tagline is “profit from the wisdom of women” which should mean they’re great for this assignment- only the client isn’t a woman- it’s a man- Mr. Burch, who doesn’t seem like he’ll be an easy guy to work with.

DIGO Brands is the abbreviation of DiMassimo Goldstein which has been around since 1996. This agency has no problem with ego, their site exudes chutzpa with lines like this:

Growth is driven. Working side-by-side with a who’s who of world-changing entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that driving change is crucial to growth. Those in the driver’s seat at ambitious organizations appreciate our dashboard of growth-driving services. They rely on us to explore and chart new frontiers of technology, media and culture through Brand-Driven Acquisition, Direct and Digital Marketing, Innovation, Product Development, Customer Marketing and Retention, Brand-Driven Conversations.

They quote the magazine “Fast Company” on their home page calling them “One of the foremost world changing agencies” and they, along with Womankind have no problems beating their own drums about being on “The Pitch”- but, these guys give us a bit more than most have with their own opinion of the whole media circus and industry disdain that comes with the show in their post about the show which is worth reading. They’ve climbed a bit on the fame ladder with their “Tappening” campaign- to make consumers think twice about drinking bottled water. Looking though their client list/work- we spot some campaigns we’ve seen and lots of clients we know. In the battle of the agencies- these guys have done great work for clients that Womankind could only dream about. Comparing portfolios- it’s DIGO is Goliath and Womankind is David- without a slingshot. You can follow Mark DiMassimo as the voice of DIGO @MarkDimassimo on Twitter- or read his blog”@speed blog” http://www.digobrands.com/go/ which currently is throwing 404 errors.

After last weeks first correct prediction we think we’re on a roll- mostly based on the one line out of the preview where Mr. Burch is asking if the creatives are  in the pitch conference and it looks like Womankind is at the wrong end of that stare down. Add in that these women don’t seem to have the kind of spines or egos to stand up to Mr. Made In China Burch- which should be no problem for the boys team at DIGO – we’re calling it for DIGO, and it should be by knockout.

The Pitch, episode 6 review: did we solve the right problem? Discuss 3 Comments

JDRF logo

Uh, what's the J stand for?

JDRF is another string of initials- it’s not even an acronym, since the “Juvenile” part of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is no longer even medically relevant. The foundation recognized they needed to change- but instead of a total makeover to something relevant to Type 1 Diabetes- they went the 4 letter route into obscurity. Which is probably why they opted to go on The Pitch- hoping to help fix their awareness problem.

They should have paid attention to the March of Dimes- which originally was the “National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis”- to fight polio. Thankfully, an entertainer coined the phrase “March of Dimes” for their annual walk- a take on the “March of Time” newsreels- and the organization had a new name- since within 30 years, the foundation had whipped Polio- and they moved their mission to birth defects. Read more in this Forbes article.

Note- they didn’t become NFFIP- or some such.

But here we have JDRF asking for a rally cry to help end Type One Diabetes- or at least help people who have it live longer. They’ve been pretty successful, since now a majority of people with Type 1 are adults – since it no longer kills the juveniles off before they became adults.

Had the assignment been to do a rebrand – come up with a new way to communicate the mission, this episode would have probably been a lot more interesting. Of the two agencies, Bozell (not the famous Bozell & Jacobs of NY- but the new Bozell of Omaha) was the bigger agency with the can do attitude, with the exception of Scott, the whiner, head of social something or other. As always, the editors love to create characters out of the contrarians- not that he was entirely wrong, he was just not very participative. Muse on the other hand came out of the brief expecting to fail- or not connect- or not have chemistry which is too bad, because they obviously can do work at a much higher level than what we saw in the show.

Once again we see the more that’s presented, the better the chance at winning. But, this time, as we actually predicted for once, Bozell won and deserved it. Not the “Be the voice of one” was super strong- despite their extensive support materials, but compared to the work Muse presented which looked worse than the local community college design students work. It also failed to respond to the specification of a “rally cry”- people aren’t going to chant “One less prick, One less prick” and have people say- oh, yeah, it’s time to donate to JDRF.

Yes, we know this is TV and people say stupid things on camera, but Jo Muse handed this competition over to Bozell after the brief, convinced that his “multi-cultural” centric firm wouldn’t be able to connect with the client or the target. Had he spent some money on bringing in some free lance creative teams or worked on the campaign more himself- instead of hiring a presentation coach, he may have done better – oh, and not presented a board with bad stock photos and too much type.

We can’t hate on Muse though, they did take this opportunity to send a powerful message to the ad community watching this show or reading about it with their “white space” :30 that they paid to air in select markets- it was right on the money. The only time most advertisers find minorities worth an effort- is if they want their money, not to hire in the field. The spot was clean, simple and powerful- had “one less prick” been that good- they’d have won in a minute.

It was hard discussing this episode because it was so boring, so our video may not be as fun as the others, but we did enjoy having Tonya Lee Carrie Fancher in for the brief- she’s one of our resources when we need to put together street teams or do field marketing in the region.

After this episode, our team wasn’t that excited about episode 7, so we’ve been delayed on the predictions post, but we’ll try to get it up before the show tomorrow.

UPDATE: Here’s the full audio podcast of our review:

 

AMC’s The Pitch 6 Muse vs. Bozell Predictions for JDRF the diversity episode Discuss 4 Comments

The upcoming episode of The Pitch features Muse Communications and Bozell as the agencies working on a pitch for client, JDRF that’s used to stand for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation- but they broadened their brand to drop the Juvenile to expand their appeal- and changed their name to the meaningless initials making sure to make the brand meaningless, you can read their excuse for their poor branding on their site.

If the show had viewers, there would probably be some controversy surrounding Muse’s cpot that will appear during the episode to those that watch it over the air on AMC (that means no one watching it on iTunes like us, or on torrents, etc or over on Sky Atlantic where the Brits seem to think the show would be better with brit firms instead of those crass, craftless yanks (from various twitter comments).

The Muse spot is called “White Space”.

The spot points out that, so far, The Pitch has been primarily white people talking to other white people. Read the video description:

As the only diverse-segment agency featured in AMCs “THE PITCH,” the men and women of Muse saw an opportunity to amplify the ongoing conversation about the need for more diversity in the advertising industry.

And here’s what we’re talking about — the excuses, the empty intentions and the quiet arrogance that allows for old white men to sit around a table with young white men and feel that everything is as it should be.

Yes, we have diverse-segment agencies, which come with diverse-segment budgets and diverse-segment control over creative. And despite all the challenges we face, our work continues to shine.

But understand this: Saying you want to do more about diversity is not the same as getting something done.

And we say to those who have the power to change the face of this industry — the time to do what’s right is always right now.

Muse plans to air the ad on TV during the episode on Sunday

An advertising agency that is to be featured on the AMC reality competition series “The Pitch” plans to run a commercial during the episode, but not on behalf of a client.

Rather, the agency, Muse Communications, which is led by an African-American, Jo Muse, will devote the spot to a frank discussion of the subject of diversity in the ad industry.

From NYTimes.com

We hope they got the space cheap, because the ratings are zip.

Ideas don’t care who their  parents are Nor do they care about culture or skin color great ideas only want to know one thing: do you have the goods to bring them to life? At Muse, We believe every human being has the ability to be brilliant. Simply put, insight and ideas come to those who passionately seek them. Collectively we possess the intuition and expertise born of multiple cultures and social sectors giving us a unique and strategic viewpoint Undoubtedly we’re eclectic, Divers. And Dynamic. That’s why after more than 25 years, Muse continues to prove that when insight, creative philosophies and inspiration are brought together, the best results are but a campaign away.

The Muse About Manifesto

It’s a bold move by Muse to stake a claim about diversity in a show where the “creative” is supposed to be king. How AMC and Studio Lambert feel about this might be interesting, but the reality is the lack of diversity in advertising is our industries dirty little secret. We’re a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business- which is a diversity classification by the Federal Government- which “requires 3% participation” on every government contract- and yet, we’ve only had a few inquiries in over 14 years of being listed on CCR (soon to be SAM)- and oddly enough, one was from Bozell, when they were still in NYC and big. We’re also eligible for SBA HUBzone contracts- an SBA classification for businesses in “Historically Underutilized Business Zones” but it hasn’t generated a contract either.

Could the early release of this spot and the PR around it be an indication that Muse didn’t win? Trying to deflect the reason they lost? At least a few on our staff think maybe, but comparing sites gives us some other insights.

There are  differences between Culver City CA  based Muse @muse_USA and  Bozell of Omaha NE @Bozell. Reviewing their work, Muse has a handful of big-time clients. Their website features a number of big-budget commercials for clients such as Honda and Wells Fargo which feature cutting-edge special effects and camera techniques. They appear to be the larger agency, and they aren’t worried about SEO with their Flash based site. Bozell, based in Omaha now- they bought the brand after one of the major holding companies did their Moby Dick moves and swallowed a Mad Ave stalwart,  appears to have smaller clients. One of the most interesting of them is Letter-Photo, a company that lets you create custom framed sayings with sleek black and white photographs. Muse’s work is a bit more refined in execution, but they are also dealing with larger clients with larger budgets. On Twitter, Bozell has been tweeting for a while- Muse seems to have just discovered the twitterverse, not a good sign.

We’re picking Bozell as the winners. We haven’t been right yet, either in our predictions posts or when we stop the show right before “the call”- best indication of who will win is whichever agency has the problems in their presentation in the edit, sends the “rookie” in (ringer or not) or shows the client frowning or not responding.  But we don’t feel too bad; judging by the “Who Should Have Won?” Polls on AMC’s website, post-show audiences generally prefer the loser.

Here’s the teaser for the episode:

The Pitch Review: Episode 5 Frangelico buys “Creative over Strategy” Discuss 0

AMC poll results for The Pitch episode 5 poll results, showing Ad store with 60% and Kovel/Fuller with 40% on Frangelico account

The poll picks the right agency: The Ad Store

We’re now 0 for 5 on picking the “winning agency” on “The Pitch.”

However, the viewer poll agrees with us once again. 61% chose The Ad Store over Kovel/Fuller’s 38% to win the Frangelico account.

If you watch the online “Why they won” segment on the AMC site the Chairman/CEO of Campari America Gerry Ruvo says “we really wanted to work with the company that came with the best creative.” He then went on to say that “We thought that the Ad Store did good strategic work”. At least this time, the client explicitly said that they went with the flashier agency rather than the agency with the best strategy.

The best marketing Frangelico will get out of this show was the show itself. The problem is that the viewership is tiny, and generally the viewers don’t agree with the client choice in any episode. During this episode, Frangelico got exposure tying it in with better known products from Campari America, including SKYY vodka, Wild Turkey and the company namesake Campari.

The reality is, Frangelico is a brand needing a major makeover, not just a campaign. The brief presented here was narrow and  limiting to begin with; women aged 25-44, defined by the brand manager as “Molly.” The problem was, the brand manager was defining herself as the ideal target and trusting her judgement on what was best for the brand without listening to the strategy that the Ad Store presented.

Compare Frangelico vs Mrs Butterworths bottle - photos

Maybe they should be married?

Maura McGinn, the “Global Head of Spirits” for Campari America proved that she was in over her head when she was impressed by the sideshow fake phone call in the presentation which she called “the little gem of a moment, when Mary presented… in the middle of the pitch, Mary pretended to call me” – really? That beat the strategic positioning of Legend, and “Think again” with it’s Renaissance reference as well as the dead on the money realization that your bottle looks like Mrs. Butterworth’s? A simple Google search proves that people were talking about this years ago, including this post from 2009)

Once again, we saw two different agency cultures and approaches. This time, Kovel/Fuller recognized The Ad Store’s Cappelli and Richard Sabean as competent competition and there was a level of respect shown for the opposition. Big egos are the norm in this business, but some are earned while others imagined. Even though many in the business cringed when Cappelli said The Ad Store was the best in the world in Episode 2,  most would agree he ate SK+G’s lunch with his brilliant “Trash Can” line and positioning. In this episode he also built a strong strategic foundation for a potentially long running campaign putting Frangelico into a class of its own. Unfortunately, the client just didn’t get it.

It was refreshing to watch The Ad Store go out and informally test and survey women in the target first with Sabean’s wife’s firm “WomanK!nd” (which will be on The Pitch in a future episode) and when Paul and his partner, Steven Crutchfield, were marketing their own products from “Villa Cappelli” in a shop.

Once again, the dramatization and the editing by Studio Lambert was designed to mislead the audience, although from a pure strategic sense we were sure The Ad Store had won, we knew when we saw smiles in the presentation of their pitch that they were doomed. If there were two things we could change about this show, one would be for a pitch consultant to help supervise and the second would be to tell the story like a documentary.

There should also be the very real option to say “no thanks to both agencies” just like in the real world, but in this case, The Ad Store was the better agency for the client once again.

Interview with Steven Crutchfield from The Ad Store Discuss 2 Comments

Steven Crutchfield from The Ad Store - AMC's The PitchSteven Crutchfield from The Ad Store was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us regarding his agency’s involvement with AMC’s The Pitch. Crutchfield was featured in episode 2 of the show, and will be featured in episode 5 that will be airing Sunday.

How authentic was the show? 

Everything you saw was real. Nothing was scripted or staged. The most we’d do anything “staged” was helping the crew get the right kind of exit or entrance shot when we were coming and going from the agency. You know, so they could have one camera inside, then be able to cut to the outside to see us lock up, or what have you. They asked us a bit just to include them in meetings and make sure they were aware if we were having a meeting as to when and where it was so they could be sure to be there. That probably pertains much more to big agencies, but it was still applicable to us as well.

Do the participating ad agencies get compensated for being on the show? 

Again, because it is real, the agency is not compensated. They did help cover travel for two people to the Pitch.

How complete was the brief? Was there solid research provided? Were you able to have any choice in the client?

The brief was pretty complete in both of our cases, with the client having provided solid research. You only have about a week, and both agencies are filmed at the same time. You have no say in the client (again, all “real”). The week (which is not normal) is due I’m sure to help with the entertainment value (pressure makes for interesting TV) and cost of production (only have to pay to have crew at some place for a week). And agencies are hardly ever briefed at the same time.

How did the Ad Store end up with 2 episodes?

You’d have to ask the producers why we ended up with two episodes. I’d like to think it was because we were entertaining.

Have you been recognized after being on the show? Has it brought more work to the firm?

We’ve gotten lots of fans from the show. It has been surprising and fun to see so much passion about the idea. It was surprising and fun to see so much passion about the idea. The show hasn’t really changed anything about us. Again, it was a “documentary” really of us. So, for us, nothing’s changed. Hopefully can get some business out of it, but we’ll see.

Do you think this show is helping the advertising profession?

Not sure if the show is helping the advertising field. I think it’s pretty accurate and shows the reality of dealing with an unknown client and frustration that happen along the way. I think for big agencies, the show isn’t such a good idea, and it’s why you don’t see them on the show. It reveals there really is no reason to have so many people on your business. It also reveals that there is no “secret sauce” that agencies claim. It all comes down to who the people are who are working on your business. Their minds, their inspiration and their creativity solving problems for the client. An agency can’t mass produce that sort of thing.

The show hasn’t really changed anything about us. Again, it was a “documentary” really of us. So, for us, nothing’s changed.

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The Pitch episode 5 predictions: Frangelico, Ad Store vs Kovel/Fuller Discuss 0

For those in the industry, a Liquor account provides the opportunity for advertising in it’s purest form: reinvention of the old into the new and the rejuvenation of stodgy into sexy. It’s also a product where the power of the brand is all consuming; either your customers feel the brand represents them, their image, their personal taste, or not.

Face it, you’re not going to win sales with “It gets you just as drunk for a nickle less.” Liquor is sophisticated, dangerous, alluring and grown up.  Lines like “tastes great, less filling” or three frogs saying your company’s name doesn’t necessarily speak to the sleek bohemian crowd who stock their bars with commodity liquors to make mixed drinks. One of the best examples of how an agency took a spirit brand to new levels was Chiat/Day with their game changing campaign for Absolut Vodka, where the bottle became a piece of art and the pinnacle of taste.

All this bar talk ultimately brings us to Frangelico.  Their packaging looks like it came out of a 17th century monastery (it’s supposed to) and is flavored with hazelnuts (which came from monks in the North of Italy). This is a product that needs to establish its place in the market and find a new audience, so their PR department chose a hail-mary: “The Pitch” for a paid one hour commercial with drama thrown in. Looking over their existing mediocre ads it’s no surprise they are looking for a new agency. Take a look at this video, for example:

Hazelnut liqueurs aren’t something you buy with the frequency of vodka, rum, beer or wine. They are something special that you typically drink in small quantities or mix into fancy drinks with chocolate swirls and exotic toppings. By Frangelico’s own account, their product is a mixer, one that benefits from being combined with things like coffee.  Considering American coffee culture is booming, there is an opportunity to grow the market for Frangelico with young connoisseurs. If only coffee shops and ice cream stores in the US could toss booze into their product lines like in Europe without the license from the State Frangelico would really be in business…

The assignment seems simple enough. The preview video talks about building audience with females, ages 25-44. They’ve named her Molly.

Looking over the sites: Kovel/Fuller has The Pitch all over their site, including two teaser videos.



And one that defies all reason:

As for the Ad Store, we’ve already gotten to know them in episode 2 where they had the right campaign but ended up losing. At the end of that show, they told us that the Ad Store would live to see another day because they’ve landed a big account. Could Frangelico be that account? Our guess is: yes! Paul Cappelli, the ECD of the Ad Store has proven to us that he understands the power of a simple line to sell an idea. Paul lives in the world of the big idea. The Ad Store still hasn’t put “The Pitch” all over their site or wasted energy on self promotion. They appear to get down to business and get the job done.

However, our predictions have gone 0 for 4 on the client picks so far, so if you’re using this to make book then you should probably bet on the other guys.

One thing we can almost guarantee is that this season will be the first and last for “The Pitch” in its current configuration.  The formula they are using to edit this program is killing off the audience faster than these pitches that are being produced. Ad Age reports viewership is almost non-existent.

However, we will be watching on Monday morning, and as always we’ll be making a video review.  Cheers to the Ad Store, hopefully Frangelico will buy into the big idea people.

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