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.