not so perfect pitch

screengrab from the infamous agency.com Subway pitch video

I’m prepping a pitch at the moment.  So I was interested to read Merry Baskin’s piece in March’s Admap about the pitch process.

Merry’s Ten Top Tips for Agencies includes ‘Rehearse.  Three times- once for content and storyline, twice in front of an audience and thrice, the dress rehearsal.’  Three times?  The reality of agency pitching as I’ve experienced it (in several agencies) is less about Merry’s multiple rehearsals or Jon ‘Perfect Pitch’ Steel’s ‘first fly your global pitch team to one location’ and more like:

Pitch-date-minus-21-days: Pitch brief arrives. Ignored by everyone for 3 days in order to firefight latest client crisis.

-17 days: Designated Account Director requests Dream Team for pitch.  DayDream Team and half the creative resource actually required assigned.

-16: Team kick off meeting called.  But takes a week to find gap in everyone’s diary.

-15: Read 148 page powerpoint briefing document and accompanying three research debriefs.  Not clear which research methodology used or when it took place so of limited use, but will have to refer to in pitch or will loose points.

-13: No budget for fresh research, so recruit next door neighbour’s hairdresser and the receptionist’s dog for depth interviews.

-8: Pitch team kick off meeting actually happens. Result of meeting – everyone needs to do some work before we can have another meeting.

-6: Creative brief written.  Due to multiple audiences and channel outputs required by pitch, brief is four pages long.  Major editing required.

-5: Brief Creative.  They ‘challenge’ the client’s brief.  Remind them of the difference between wining a pitch and actually producing effective work.

-4: Start writing presentation/leave behind.  Writer’s block.

-4: Creative First Thoughts.  Some ideas total genius and some less so.  The bad ones are going to take a lot of getting rid of.

-3: Creative Second Thoughts.  They bring their CD in for Extra Fire Power. Agree compromise.  Consider alternative career in United Nations, Hostage Negotiation etc.

-3: Show first draft of presentation to agency VIP.  He has had a better idea, but not thought to mention it until now.  Rewrite presentation, incorporating VIP’s ideas and post-rationalising change in creative direction.

-3: Check someone has booked a visualiser.  The fast-and-good guy is booked on another job.  We have the good-but-slower guy.

-2: Double check someone has booked trains/planes/hotels etc.  Point out that perhaps we won’t be at our best having got up at 4.30am to catch the train.

-1: Should be rehearsing now, but visualiser is still wielding his felt tips, have run out of spray mount and agency VIP would like to make a ‘few tweaks’ to the powerpoint.

-1 (late): Sending out for pizza.

-1 (even later): Hunting for an A2 artwork bag.  Might have more luck hunting for Loch Ness Monster.

Pitch Day! : Got boards, laptop with presentation, projector and pitch team all together and heading out the door.  We can always rehearse on the train, right?

3 thoughts on “not so perfect pitch

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