The Pitch Season 2, Episode 1. Hunks Get Screwed.

/ Comments (8)

You know, I said I wasn’t going to watch this season of The Pitch. Last season infuriated me to the point of bursting a blood vessel or two.

But I’m an ad freak. I love the business, and I love watching reality shows about the business. Even if they illustrate how completely fucked up this industry is.

Oh, there are huge spoilers in this by the way. If you haven’t seen it yet, bookmark this page for that moment immediately after watching it, when you feel the need to vent. You will be happy you did.

So, the season two opener kicks of with two agencies competing for the business of College Hunks Hauling Junk. You’ve seen the vans. You know the name. It seems like a decent account to win. After all, they clearly have something of a sense of humor, judging by the name.

The two agencies that came into the arena couldn’t have been further apart. Fletcher Rowley, an agency of stiff douchebags with mainly political clients on their roster. They’ve won 32 Pollie awards for their muckraking shit that gives advertising a really bad name. And Breen*Smith, laid back creative folks with a decent portfolio and a good attitude.

Hang on Felix…we’re not even a few minutes into the episode and you’ve already made that conclusion.

Yep.

And I’m sure most people did, when they saw Bill Fletcher, the George Lucas lookalike, getting his hair cut whilst reading Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”

Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break.

This was about as spontaneous as one of his political clients kissing babies and wearing the USA flag pin. He instantly branded himself as a complete dickhead in one second. Nicely done. And then his protégé, John Rowley, showed his true colors by saying he still obsesses about a game he lost over twenty years ago.

Now there’s a man who has his priorities right. Oh, and if first impressions count in this business, you may consider getting the haircut, John. Holy shit.

Anyway, the other guys from Breen*Smith were humble, self-effacing and likeable. Based on last year’s winners, I figured these guys had no chance. I already wanted them to snag it.

They get the pitch from the College Hunks execs, which is basically a blank sheet of paper. But as soon as they leave the building Bill Fletcher is on the phone, his pompous bullshit already oozing out of every pore. He wants to know everything about the competitor agency, down to what they ate for breakfast.

For fuck’s sake! Why, Bill? Why?

This isn’t political advertising. You can’t smear them and win. Your obsession with Sun Tzu is completely irrelevant here. In fact, I’ll ask you right here, just in case you’re reading this…what did learning everything about Breen*Smith accomplish for you? What nuggets did you glean than helped you pull together a campaign for College Hunks?

The answer, I’m sure, is absolutely fucking zero. You cannot produce a great campaign by focusing on your pitch competitors. You need to focus on…the client. I know, weird right? You’re usually so obsessed with digging dirt on your opponents that you forgot the basic number one rule of a pitch – know your client and the product or service.

Breen*Smith, on the other hand, were not digging into Fletcher Rowley. They would have shit themselves laughing (or maybe crying) if they had. Instead, they were more interested in going back to the client to get answers to new questions.

Yes. Smart. Get those questions now, before you dive into a pitch campaign, not later when you’ll have to dump half the work.

We go back to Fletcher Rowley to see they have decided to completely flush the College Hunks name down the shitter. Yeah, they only built a massive business from that name. It has great brand equity. We don’t need that. Let’s rename it something cool like, oh, “Heroic Movers and Haulers.” The tagline “With Great Movers Comes Great Responsibility” was just as lame. In one fell swoop, they dumped years of brand building and replaced it with something completely amateurish. It looked like student work.

Wanting to sound cerebral, Fletcher started quoting Greek mythology – the word hero works across every continent. This guy could bottle his smugness and sell it in Target.

Breen*Smith were throwing out lines like “Hunks holding your package,” They wanted to keep the equity College Hunks had built, and move forward. The right move.

Then we go back to Fletcher to see that he’s brought in a focus group. At this point, I was convinced this was some kind of Candid Camera stunt. No ad agency is this pathetic. You don’t base your entire pitch on the musings of a few housewives from down the road. Christ, they all said Hunks was off-putting. This is the name that built an empire, how fucking bad can it be?! If Steve Jobs had put the iPad in front of these women, Apple would had shelved it. Which is why he didn’t.

So, long story a little bit shorter, pitch time comes. The night before, Fletcher and Rowley are drinking and talking about Sun Tzu again. Give me strength. They stated they were unbeatable. I forget which part of “The Art of War” says you should embrace hubris. Oh, it never did. If he’d ever shown up, these guys would be too busy blowing him to realize he was berating their entire raison d’etre.

The two agencies have to pitch in front of each other, which is the first time I’ve seen that. Hopefully, the last. Personally, I would have declined, and asked to pitch separately. It’s best all around. But they obliged, and both agencies presented pretty fucking awful work. I already knew I hated the Heroic stuff, but Breen*Smith’s “Hunks & a Dolly” throwback to World War 2 poster campaigns was dire. The College Hunks team looked underwhelmed to say the least.

In the end Breen*Smith won, but really, there were no winners. Only losers, the biggest being College Hunks. They probably didn’t want to choose either agency, but went with Breen*Smith because at least they didn’t shit all over the brand equity.

It was good to see the Fletcher Rowley shits run back to their political muckraking HQ, trying to convince themselves the College Hunks just weren’t ready for their bold strategy.

If this is the kind of work we can expect from this season, I pity the clients. Did you see the episode? Am I off base? Fire away, you magnificent fuckers.

There will be more analysis of Episode 2 next week.

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.

Comments

I was the same. I wasn't going to watch anymore but it was still programmed into our DVR so I watched this one. When I saw the bio of Fletcher Rowley, I was like, this is going to good. The clip of him reading art of war while getting his haircut got a huge eye roll. come on.

Yes they were both awful. The logo from FR was TERRIBLE. Granted I don't know the College Hunks execs really knew what they ultimately wanted or were ready to make a decision either way. But yeah, you're right on.

I find it kind of amusing in this show that almost every agency over thinks the task to such a confusing degree. I think all these clients are looking for is something different and a little direction from experienced professionals. Come up with a decent idea. Execute it in a clear manner and communicate said concept in a pitch that's simple and energetic. boom-done.

I watched it. I'm a glutton. As bad as it was, I bet it's still going to be better than Robin Williams' new show, "The Crazy Ones."

The Hunks are soliciting opinions on their new name/tagline:
http://www.collegehunkshaulingjunk.com/blog/article/pitch-us-your-idea

Interestingly enough, it seems the client ended up using the idea from the political agency:
http://www.heroicmovers.com/

Fueled by my sick sense of curiosity, I clicked on the pitch-us-your-idea link, and that picture of those three sitting there made me shift my thinking and realize they will get what they deserve out of this whole effort. They are obviously focused on the "How do we sell more franchises and make ourselves a crapload of money?" aspect of the business and not the "How do we dominate the moving industry with an atypical moving industry name and approach?"

I say, lose the ties and go back to your company's roots. I'd bet Felix's next three paychecks that a picture of these guys forming the idea for the company would have been shot after 9pm in some bar with at least 15 empties on the table and not a suit coat in sight. OK, maybe it was around a keg in the basement of their frat. Either way, they hit on something that did and can still work as was if they want it to.

also i wish they'd do a recap after these campaigns run. i'd be very curious to see how well they did and the reactions from the clients.

So College Hunks dumped Breen*Smith and went with the political knob polishers and the Heroic "rebrand." They deserve everything they won't get. Jesus Christ.

Why did you take down the Editorial reviewing Episode 2???

Did John Meyer read the negative comments regarding him - and threaten to sue?

...just a guess ....

And a good one at that.

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