An agency decided it will call for a pitch. So it asked 9 big clients to respond to a crisp brief that was so exhaustive, it looked like a lethal potion a thousand brand managers had purposefully cooked up. Only, it wasn’t the brand managers, it was the account managers this time, that had gleefully put together a painstaking regurgitation of a zillion power point presentations.
Find the insight in the haystack, was perhaps one of the fleeting thoughts in their minds, but only fleeting. You see they wanted it to be a solid foundation for all clients. To give them the same playing field and the same long rope. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity, they told the pitch prospects. Especially the incumbents.
And so, in an absolute show of fairplay, there will be three rounds, they assured the enthusiastic bunch. Round One is credentials, said the agency. Ask yourself: how worthy are you of being on our client roster? What is your claim to fame, your lineage, your size, scale and experience? Why would we want to have you jostling with the MNCs and creative-led clients we already have? Can you fly in your US counterpart? Can you demonstrate you are a global brand? Can you prove your retail network strength? And then?, asked the innocent clients, who had sent their three-downs for this discussion. After all, with every subsequent dialogue leading up to the pitch you send one level up and you don’t want to end with no CEO left for the last talk before the finals! And then, piped up a hitherto very silent pitch co-ordinator at the agency (who had edged out three others to this honour), you do creative. Creative?
But we are clients, said one wide-eyed wonder. The pitch co-ordinator grew impatient, looked at his watch, tried not to let his superior position show. You never know, he thought, a cousin of the client may know the aunt of my CEO and I could end up working with this half-pint.
The awful spectre of a bespectacled dwarf becoming a monstrous client, brought him back to reality and he rattled off the pre-requisites of Round Two. Where is your iconic creative leadership? Do you think differently? What award have you won for the taste of your noodles or the warranty on your fridge? Have you been to Cannes? Can you think in the vernacular? Do you support an audio mnemonic which has no earthly relevance to your brand? You know, that kind of thing, said the PC of the A. But whatever it is, it has to be 360 degrees. Don’t forget digital. Activation. Mobile is a must, yes, mobile is where the action is.
The WEW nodded – the usual, he thought to himself, the whole song and dance. That pitch we’d done to the other agency last year could still work with a bit of spit and polish and logo change. Plus digital, activation and mobile. Let me get back to the office and google this out… And then, said the PC of the A with seemingly no happiness in the thought, there is the last round, Round Three, on financials. The WEW gulped like he’d swallowed a few zeroes, but that went unnoticed.
How capable are you of spending as much as (at the very least) our smallest client? How liquid are you? Why should we take on your media liability? Can you sign off on a retainer without your grown-ups’ consent? Are you listed on NASDAQ? Barbs, shards, salt upon wound… the WEW winced in silent and excruciating pain. I’ll be back, he swore. And I want my full 85%. He got up to leave and the PC of the A fired his last bullet. The three rounds will be on yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, not counting public holidays. You see we want to be fair … etc, etc. What happened next? I share your curiosity, your silent chuckle, your tingle of anticipation, your latent sense of revenge. But, who the hell woke me up when I was having this wonderful dream?