Lessons from The Pitch

The Pitch got mixed reviews from critics.  The hour long unscripted shows on Sky Atlantic showed a behind the scenes view of two creative agencies pitching for a US client’s business. 

Jonathan Bernstein writing in the Guardian said “The Pitch is so boring it would drive Don Draper to drink”.  (See what he did there?… no, neither do I).  If you read his review you would be forgiven for giving the shows a miss. 

As someone who works on pitches of some kind nearly every week of the year, I found the show gripping and full of reminders of the kinds of lessons you learn from the real experience of pitching ideas and for business to clients.

In one episode the head honcho of one of the agencies pitching tells his team, as they go for the joint briefing with a competitive agency : “Try not to embarrass yourself or the agency”.  Good advice, but not exactly team spirit building.  Remember morale is everything and morale is a fragile state of mind.

In another episode, where two agencies are pitching for Frangelico liqueur we see an agency veteran pitching against a new planner doing her first ever pitch.  He puts his faith in his “guardian angel”, and pretty much delivers a confident and traditional pitch.  The stakes are high.  If he loses he says it will be his last pitch ever.  She’s only just started work after a long illness.  She’s very nervous.  Her agency boss says to the client : “We’d prefer you to consider this not as a pitch but as our first working session. “  This is a great move designed to make the client audience less judgemental at a stroke. Guess who wins ?

In this series we see time and again that few clients buy strategy, they are swayed by executions.  If a campaign flatters the brand and the brand owner  the client will prefer it.  Always.

If it earns a repeat I’d give it a try, for a practioner it was fascinating.  Last word of this blog to Mark DiMassimo CEO of DIGO : “The biggest mistake is to forget that you’re pitching every moment”.

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