The Pitch Season 2, Episode 4: Tommy Ba Ha Ha.

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My apologies for another late review. What can I say, I work in advertising. It’s a lot easier watching the show while I’m multi-tasking than it is to sit down and review it. I’m missing out on some quality sleep writing this.

So, two agencies once again meet to compete; Pasadena Advertising and Neuron Syndicate. I laughed out loud when I saw the second name on screen. I’m pretty sure that’s the most pretentious agency moniker I’ve ever seen. You’d have to really sit down and think hard to come up with something worse. Maybe “The Cognitive Catalysts” or “Braintrust Consortium.” Nope, they’re not even close. Help me out here.

The client on this episode is the women’s sportswear division of Tommy Bahama. They consider themselves the purveyors of the “island lifestyle.” Not in a Quiksilver way, more of a Quiksilver’s dad way. Personally, it’s not my kind of gear, but this stuff has a market. And it’s a big account. I mean, I’ve actually heard of this one.

Pasadena Advertising is run by a husband and wife team. Instant alarm bells. She seems to wear the pants, he loves playing with words. And his dog. I’m not sure how well these husband and wife teams work out, generally they seem to have major conflicts. But it’s worked for them for over 20 years, even though they’ve laid off a massive amount of people – from 100 people to a handful. They seem down to earth though. Nice. That’s the word. Nice. But does nice cut it?

Neuron Syndicate, on the other hand, are way up their own assholes. The name suits them. It screams pretentious and they live up to that, right down to one guy’s two-foot long ponytail. They also just hired a new business guy, John Fox, who they clearly hate. I’ve heard of having a dissenting opinion in the office, but this borders on disdain. And he also hasn’t sold any business yet.

Now, the good part — the client brief. Is it incisive? Is it clear, providing solid direction? Well, it’s not too bad. They want to reach the average woman and tell her about Tommy Bahama. They want print and catalogs. They don’t want clichés and coconuts. It seems like enough for a good account manager to work with. They tell the agencies they’ll be visiting in a few days, which could mean one of two things — a tissue session, or “show us where you’re at.” I’m betting it’s the latter.

Neuron Syndicate then blurt out the most contrived, trite shit I’ve ever heard — "it’s not about lifestyle, it’s how you style your life." My head hurts. What the fuck does that even mean? It’s generic vomit.

They present it to the team; they look appropriately sickened. Excellent. They have a clue. John Fox hates it. There’s a lot of internal bickering going on. Seems like there’s some major dysfunction here.

At Pasadena, it isn’t much better. They basically have the “idea” of a tampon commercial. In Tommy Bahama clothes, women go zip lining and ride motorcycles. Christ. Old lady owner wants her to be sailing. It all sounds like a crap fashion shoot.

The client comes to both agencies looking for “what have you got?” and are disappointed. Not surprising. But Pasadena made some rum cake! Like I said, nice. After some rehashing, they come up with “Where To Next?” For this kind of brand, it’s not too bad. Of course, it’s all in the strategy and execution, and it looks a lot like catalog shots. The virtual dressing room is one of those “nice try” ideas. You’re trying to be cool and modern, but it was done poorly. How does that encompass “where to next?”

Back to Neuron. They still love “style your life.” Unbelievable. However, I do like some of the guerrilla ideas. The subway beach takeover had merit. How that says “style your life” is beyond me, seems like a stretch. The whole campaign feels very much style over content in fact.

The pitch comes, and the Neurons go first. Their “style your life” line seemed to go down like a bucket of cold sick. The client is missing a lot of their product shots, and says the work looks generic and like a cruise line. They crap all over it. They hate it.

Right now, my money is on Neuron to win this one.

Pasadena goes next, starting with a brand video that reflects on “where to next?” Then the presentation goes in the shitter when the tech fails. I feel for them, we’ve all been there. It’s one of those “fuck, kill me now” moments. So they wing it for a while. And judicious cutting makes it seem like Pasadena have walked this.

You know what happened. They gave the account to Neuron Syndicate, probably because they don’t want a mom and pop shop with grandma at the helm. They even said, “you don’t hire an idea, you hire an agency.”

I wonder, is that true?

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.


man i thought they both missed the mark on this one. with a relatively easy problem to solve. i thought "where to next" had potential but they fell short on the deliverables.

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