The Pitch Episode 3 – Are Things Actually Getting Better?
Oh and, before I continue, I am going for a challenge on this one. After the silliness of the last rant — where people seemed more concerned with my use of profanity than the content of the piece — I am going PG on this. Not because I care what they think, I obviously don’t. But I am curious, can I do an arresting piece without dropping f-bombs and c-bombs and s-bombs and any other bombs that make people like le-sigh have a feminist meltdown?
Time, and the comment stream, will tell.
So, what were we treated to on Monday night? It was the turn of Clockwork Home Services (oh, these catchy names) to dangle their mighty carrot in front of two agencies — The Hive, and FKM.
Clockwork, if you don’t already know, is the proud parent of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Mister Sparky, and One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating. Again, no comment on the names. Apart from the “no comment” comment — which clearly means I hate them with the same passion creatives hate the words "client feedback."
The Clockwork people assembled our two sparring agencies in a grim location; the kind of place Dexter would assemble a kill room and stab someone through the heart. (He could have come in handy later on in this episode.)
So, after explaining for an eternity the brand values and company mission of a bunch of electricians, plumbers and HVAC guys, the two agencies had a chance to ask questions.
Scott Brown, metrosexual leader of FKM, looked shell-shocked. Could have been sly editing (let’s face it, it probably was), but he stumbled over his words like a rank amateur. It didn’t help, though, that The Hive’s Andy Krupski came barreling in like juggernaut from the X-Men. Throughout the episode, several times in fact, he stated that he hates to lose and that his agency is the best in the world.
Time out for a second. Is it just me, or does the owner of every mediocre, mid-sized shop in America (and in this case, Canada) really believe that the stuff they’re churning out is better than the excellence we all know and love from agencies like W&K, TBWA, Goodby and the like? I mean, are they that disillusioned? Or are they all strutting, hoping that this self-belief will translate into more clients? I don’t know. But I really hate them for it.
OK, after the briefing, the agencies once again shuffle back to their sad grief holes in their parts of the world. FKM, from Texas, assemble half the agency in a boardroom for the lowdown. And after giving out the creative brief, tell them that they are to work on this for the next 24 hours, straight, without sleep. They also had to hand over their cell phones!
Scott Brown is now showing himself to be slightly more imbecilic than the whole cast of Jersey Shore. I mean, I can count on one penis the number of times I had a killer idea at 4.35am at the agency, hopped up on coffee and cold pizza and surrounded by equally shagged-out advertising wrecks.
I wouldn’t need the whole penis either.
The very notion that you can lock people away without any contact, and expect them to create bold, fresh ideas, is lunacy. It was at this point that I did not care what they came up with. I wanted them to fail — and fail hard. I wanted to see Scott Brown crying in the corner like a freshly raped pedophile in a maximum security prison. This would have been a good point for Dexter to appear, show him photos of the sad people around him, and put him out of our misery.
But no. Thanks for nothing, Dex.
Meanwhile, The Hive were throwing ideas around and decided to do the unthinkable. They would completely ignore the client’s specific request — to keep the three companies separate — and merge them into one new brand, Direct Energy.
Personally, I love giving clients what they need, not what they ask for. But this was beyond risky, it was reckless. When you have a solid relationship with a client, and establish trust, you have a better foundation for this kind of behavior. Sticking your middle finger up at them this early on, that’s just asking for a slap. And a slap they got. No, no, no, no, no. Don't go there. Start again.
This happened, by the way, during a “tissue” session. A moron whose name I can't recall, and don’t want to look up, remarked that tissue sessions got their name from the crying you do when the client rejects your idea.
Maybe he was trying to make a joke, although if he was he had the delivery skills of Rain Man. No, this was actually what he thought. No idea, no clue, that “tissue” sessions got their name from the type of paper you’d sketch and draw on in one of these meetings. It was long before the days of computers and iPads — when creative teams would sketch out ideas on pads of cheap tissue paper. It was a way to get ideas down quickly, and inexpensively, so that the campaign could be developed (often with the client assisting).
So yeah, what a dipsh…oops, almost slipped there.
The ideas came thin and slowly for both sides. FKM had a genius idea about adding HELP to any service the Clockwork guys provide. They can help change a light bulb, water a plant, paint a fence, or get a kitty out of a tree.
At this point, it’s not clear if lonely, frustrated housewives could get some help with their plumbing, but if you get 30 mins free, who knows. Now that could really be a rebranding exercise.
The Hive, they had two ideas. One was a truck full of money, that people could win. And the other was a schmaltzy, saccharin campaign that could have run the day after September 11th. I threw up a bit when I saw it.
That left me with two possible conclusions on the horizon. FKM would win — and I’d want to suck a tailpipe. Or, The Hive would win, and I’d want to suck a tailpipe.
The pitches went the usual way. The Hive went first and the money truck sank like a truck filled with money. The idea about destroying a toilet with a bowling ball sealed the fate of that one, and that’s an idea that’s been done many times before. The sickly-sweet heroes atrocity got some traction, but remember, clients like these get excited by the latest Adam Sandler movies.
FKM went next and the new “new biz” girl did the bulk of the pitch. She did OK. It didn’t hurt that she was easy on the eyes, although the female Clockwork client who ate her lipstick and got pulled through a hedge backwards, she clearly felt threatened by her.
The HELP idea went down well. I thought it was too much of a leap and too far removed from what they do. But it had a hook, it was memorable, and ultimately I can’t fault the Clockwork dullards for choosing it. Neither side really impressed me and, as I sat chewing on what I had seen, I realized…I really didn’t care.
It made me yearn for the first episode, when I was screaming at the screen. At least that had some energy to it. And worst of all, the FKM prison-like agency conditions were rewarded. Those poor saps, they’re about to get worked to death.
There, that’s all she wrote. And not one fucking swearword, you goddamned cocksuckers.
Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.