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

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:

[flv:http://www.frangelico.com/info/files/Oz_Cinema_Ad.flv 480 360]

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.

AMC's The Pitch 4 Conversation vs. BooneOakley Predictions

BooneOakley's Staff in Episode 4 of The Pitch on AMC

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.

Here’s the teaser for episode 4:

AMC’s The Pitch 3 The Hive vs. FKM Predictions

AMC's The Pitch - The Hive and FKM Clockwork Home Services

Photo from AMC

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 all over 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.

We’ll watch the show on Tuesday morning at the office and do our post pitch review like we’ve done for the previous episodes.

Here is the trailer for the episode:

The Next Wave reviews AMC’s “The Pitch” Episode 2 – Video & Podcast

[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):
[podcast]https://thenextwave.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/the-next-wave-pitch-ep-2-podcast.mp3[/podcast]

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?

The “manifesto” video that SK+G presented that “brought tears” to Lynn Brown WM VP of Corporate Communications was another derivative work and although it was a quickly produced agency ripomatic- it’s only window dressing and a one-shot corporate feel good piece that doesn’t solve the long term marketing problem of changing perceptions.

AMC poll results for The Pitch episode 2

The Ad Store wins the poll

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.