BooneOakley's Staff in Episode 4 of The Pitch on AMC - Image from AMC
The upcoming episode of AMC’s The Pitch features Conversation from New York vs BooneOakley from Charlotte, NC with Popchips as the client. Popchips, who was #4 in Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list, is a snack company that creates “popped” chips rather than fried or baked. They also have some big name investors, such as Ashton Kutcher, Sean “Diddy” Combs, David Ortiz, and Jillian Michaels. Even with these big-time backers, it’s no surprise that Popchips has turned to a reality show for their marketing needs - the company is in need of some positive marketing after Kutcher’s controversial ad involving him dressed up as an Indian named Raj (with full “brownface” makeup).
Taking a look at both agency sites, the differences are vast. BooneOakley takes an oversimplified and quirky approach. The website focuses on their work rather than themselves. In fact, the only self-promotion on the whole site is one short paragraph from the about us page on the site:
BooneOakley, founded in 2000, is an award-winning, globally recognized advertising and digital agency with a client roster that has included HBO, Bojangles’, MTV, State Farm, Ruby Tuesday, CarMax, Mizuno and more. Recent accolades include Ad Age’s “Southeast Small Agency of the Year,” Cannes Gold Cyber Lion, SXSW, Webbys and Clios. We were also featured in “Google Creative Canvas” and The One Show’s “Best of The Digital Decade.”
Conversation’s site is a bit more flashy and much more complex (read: hard to navigate). They give the impression of being the bigger agency with bigger clients. Their team page features quirky photos of the members of the company - something that the previous winners FKM and SK+G both feature on their site (right down to the rollover animation).
As for our prediction of who will be the victor in this episode, we’re putting our money on BooneOakley. Looking at their work, it is all a little off beat and quirky and should fit right in with Popchips marketing style. Another clue is the fact that BooneOakley plugs the show (albeit subtly), where as Conversation doesn’t appear to do so on their blog. Whatever the outcome, this may be the biggest mismatch of the series so far agency wise.
Next week’s The Pitch, (@ThePitch_AMC) episode 3, will feature two ad agencies competing to win Clockwork Home Services as a client. The contenders are The Hive (@The_hive) from Toronto and FKM (@FKMAgency), located in various office in Texas. From the teaser the assignment will be for three different brands; Mister Sparky, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and One Hour Heating and Air Cooling. They hint at the the briefing - “The task is to develop a tri-branded, integrated promotion that will drive customers to call one of our brands.” The first two episodes have had some pretty tough assignments to crank out in one week, but this one may take the cake. It’s not clear whether or not it will be a complete rebranding or a new ad campaign, but either way it’s a daunting task.
Just like an ad-centric Oscar party, we’re making our prediction on this episode; The Hive will emerge victorious. Why? Looking at their site, The Hive is building “buzz” (pun intended) about The Pitch allover the place, whereas FKM only has a few mentions Only the winning agency promotes the hell out of the show? It worked that way for episode 2.
On the other hand, our pattern recognition mode has been switched on and we see that FKM’s About page is very similar in concept to the About page on SK+G’s website; right down to the rollover animation on the photos. This makes them seem a bit more quirky and web-savvy–traits that have won the previous two clients on The Pitch. We are still going with The Hive as the victor, but it could go either way.
Perhaps also worth noting is that one of the clients featured on FKM’s website is Waste Management. Yep, the very same WM from Episode 2. Intriguing…does this mean that FKM was scrapped (pun intended) by WM? This begins to raise questions about how and why AMC picked the agencies that they picked; the connections are a little too apparent.
We at The Next Wave believe in deep insight based creativity and after seeing a few of The Pitches, we’ve become a bit pessimistic. We’re also fairly certain that the ad agency with the best pitch will not be chosen. Look for the best showmanship and razzle dazzle, not the agency with the profound concept.
[contains spoilers] We here at The Next Wave have our opinions about the second episode of AMC’s The Pitch. While we all look forward to each new episode, we also realize that the reality of advertising and the “made-for-TV” version of it are quite different (as is the case with all reality TV).
This episode features two ad agencies, SK+G from Las Vegas and The Ad Store from New York. They are competing against each other to land Waste Management as a client. You can buy the show or the season on iTunes The Pitch, Season 1 - The Pitch and follow along as we watch 15 agencies work to win 8 accounts (The Ad Store went twice).
We felt that episode 2 was more interesting than the pilot. The “Ah-hah” moment when The Ad Store’s Paul Cappelli came up with the brilliant “Trash Can…” positioning reminded all of us in the biz how great it feels when you get it right and know it.
Of course- when the client falls for dreck from the competition, we can also relate.
We recorded our conversation after the show- and made a podcast and then tried to edit it to 3 minutes to get a feel for what happens with the show. We’d love to hear what you think- and why you agree or disagree with us.
You can listen to full, unedited audio of this discussion here (26 minutes):
What is becoming apparent after two shows is that the clients willing to put their brands up to this are already uncertain with their own marketing. Buying into a one hour “reality TV” stunt will get you an hour in the spot light, but the question that should be asked is who’s watching and if that’s your market. Reaching all the ad pros in America probably isn’t your target market (although if you were an agency pitch consultant it might be good to put your ads on the air).
The agencies are getting exposure that will propel them into their 15 minutes of fame- for some this is good. The twist of coming out on National TV by Cappelli was unexpected- and none of us saw that coming. The bickering between the two SK+G ECD’s was painful to watch. Word online is that Ray Johnson has left Las Vegas for Chicago, although his resume isn’t updated yet. Talking about the miscues of SK+G in this episode would be a rather long post. We’d rather concentrate on the strategic issues that were missed.
The brief from the people at Waste Management was poor. “Making people aware of why we’re different” is unfocused and doesn’t identify which people. Why do they want to “create awareness that Waste Management converts waste into energy” - is it to grow market share, increase recycling? They don’t say what their goals are. The words “viral” and “edgy” should never appear in a brief. The value of Agency Search Consultants is becoming very apparent watching these two clients give their briefs. To give the agency the job to tell the client where they are going isn’t something you do on a first date- it’s something you discuss after you’ve worked together and the agency fully understands the clients DNA and has earned the client’s trust. One week prep is what you do for a fire sale, not a corporate strategy.
We’re not privy to budgets or the resources that the client will make available to the agency, but we felt that the emphasis for a company with an amazing infrastructure of trash trucks, waste containers and employees across the nation was a missed opportunity that neither agency suggested in their presentation.
It’s here where ‘Trash Can…” power this and save the planet etc. became powerful. Not with a guerrilla sign in trash heaps campaign, but printed on every trash can that carries the WM logo. On the sides of their trucks- they have a fleet of roving billboards. Here is a low cost place to start communicating the idea that “Garbageispower.com” which The Ad Store was linking to. This isn’t a campaign where “new media” should be the lead.
The SK+G winning concept of “Waste into WOW!” with it’s reuse of the award winning Reporters without Borders concept of using a QR code and a smart phone to make celebrities??? talk trash? was painfully bad. How much does WM want to spend on print ads - and what celebrities were going to sign up? Trash talking sports stars or trashy d-list celebs?
Ultimately, we believe the wrong agency won, as do other ad pros who’ve weighed in on multiple sites. When we went to vote on the AMC Poll- (which went from almost 65-35 to 60-40 since I first voted) shows that a majority of people who were willing to vote picked the Ad Store as well.
We’re looking forward to the premier episode of “The Pitch” on AMC. Not that we believe that the way the show is cut together really shows how great advertising is done, but because we are students of the craft of advertising and always are interested in the process of creating ads- or even spec work (which we always think is a bad idea).
The pilot episode was a pitch for Subway’s breakfast business, where the brief focused the agency work on the 18-24 crowd. As almost always is the case, the quality of the brief guides the work. How Subway decided that they needed to reach 18-24 year olds to sell more breakfast sandwiches was never substantiated which really should have been the first question the agencies asked.
The two brave agencies that went boldly where the truly huge agencies wouldn’t were McKinney in North Carolina and WDCW from California. Both have a substantial portfolio of work and are proven shops capable of doing great work. Subway’s exec team tipped their hand early, showing disrespect for WDCW’s previous work for Quiznos. Almost predictably, McKinney “won” the piece of business, but considering Subway’s never been known for producing any award winning work, it’s just dollars to the bottom line and a great chance for McKinney to get some self promotion.
Which brings us to the “premier” episode for Waste Management. Without talking trash, this isn’t exactly the kind of account that agencies hope to win Cannes hardware with. The two agencies in round two- SK+G from Las Vegas and The Ad Store from NYC aren’t as well known or respected as the round one agencies by their peers. Spend a little time on their sites and you’ll still not know very much about what makes them tick. You’ll also notice that while SK+G has lots of mentions of “The Pitch” on their site, The Ad Store doesn’t mention a thing. Foreshadowing? We’ll see. Neither site shows much prowess at Web 2.0 or social media, so maybe these are the right agencies to pitch Waste Management, who does mention The Pitch on their site. In fact, you’ll probably learn more about Waste Management on their site than you will about the agencies pitching on theirs.
One always should wonder about these “clients” using “The Pitch” as their hiring vehicle. Who is their current agency? Why are they playing spin the bottle for an agency on national television? It’s our belief and experience that the best advertising comes from long term relationships with clients that work with their agency like a respected partner. This show is about as far away from that as it comes.
We’ll have more on Episode 2 after it airs. Anyone else want to bet on the winner now?
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