Review: The Pitch

Posted by at 10:54 pm on May 1, 2012

the-pitch-tournament-284AMC recently aired the first episode of “The Pitch” which they’ve advertised as a reality/competition version of Mad Men. The nut of the show is that two ad agencies meet with a potential corporate client where there are given requirements for a campaign, they go away and develop their ideas then they come back to the potential client, they each give their pitch and then the client picks the winner.

The first competition featured North Carolina based McKinney Agency against WDCW from Los Angeles. The two were wrangling for the hand of potential client Subway, and the chance to revamp its breakfast campaign. Execs from the sandwich chain explained that they want to market their breakfast sandwiches to the 18-24 demographic.  The teams return to their home bases and begin brainstorming.

At WDCW we see lots of talk about they are known being edgy and doing work that breaks from the norm. There’s lots of chatter about how they’d rather go down doing what they think is right. and how it’s more important to make a great effort than to win (foreshadowing maybe?) Eventually they decide to go with the idea that in the morning, before breakfast, people are like zombies, the ad folks riff on this calling them zAMbies. The campaign tells you that you can break away from zAMbie breakfasts at Subway, complete with zAMbie talk commercials and print ads.

Mckinney turns the project over to some of the younger creatives in their shop and comes back with two ideas to present. First up is “Let’s Fix Breakfast” The pitch team presents this as a Breakfast makeover talk show starring talking sandwiches. A cut to the Subway execs during that portion of the meeting shows how flat the idea falls when their faces do not move a single muscle. Next up is a campaign featuring Mac Lethal, a rapper that one of the creative times finds on YouTube where a video or him rapping about pancakes has gone viral. Mac Lethal gets a call and the agency ends up making a video of him rapping the wonders of breakfast in a Subway store.

The Subway execs had visible reactions to both the zAMbies and the custom rapping, but in the end they make the decision to go with McKinney and Mac Lethal. A great end to each episode would be to see the finished campaign, but according an Ad Age interview with McKinney’s creative director Liz Paradise, the campaign is “still a work in progress” and she gives no definite timeline and when we’ll see it.

If I were the client, I would have gone with the “Let’s Fix Breakfast” campaign, since I think if you were to banish the talking food to a black hole someplace it would have a better lantern outcome. The zAMbies idea works great on the premise that zombies are hot with the 18-24 crowd, but the visuals that WDCW came out with seemed more like something that you’d send to the Sonic chain than to Subway.

Mac Lethal was a pretty edgy choice for McKinney, in her Ad Age interview about the episode Liz Paradise¬† remarks about the fact that his references to to “cocaine, hookers and fat blunts” in his Twitter feed might give the agency pause about using his in a non-reality TV scenario. Just another reason to go with “Let’s Fix Breakfast”

My version of that campaign (just in case anyone form TWBA or Saatchi and Saatchi wants to scout me) would be to get some tinkers like the folks from Mythbusters or Carter Osterhouse, to revamp breakfasts with healthy Subway options, rather than given breakfast a “makeover”, I have to say again though, from a consumer perspective, that I never, repeat not ever, want to think about my food talking to me. Remember the sandwich from the Miracle Whip ads, yeah the one with the nasty green olives for eyes? Nuff said.

I was intrigued enough by The Pitch to give the next couple episodes a go, though it felt a bit forced in places. If for no other reason than to play “How would I market that?”

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