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.
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.
Steven 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.
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.
[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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