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Did 'The Pitch' Ever Catch On?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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AMC used to be the network of George Clooney's dad, shows that were slightly more upbeat than what was found on Turner Classic Movies, and an occasional Ronco infomercial. However, with the advent of "Mad Men" and Mr. Don Draper, AMC has found new life in original production. To piggyback on the advertising lore, they created "The Pitch," which heralded two agencies face-to-face competing for the same account. 

It was like what provides an RFP for those fun, interactive dreams. 

According to Nielsen via AdAge.com, its first episode garnered 262,000 pair of eyeballs. And that was followed by an abysmal 45,000. No wonder during live tweets, I was getting nice responses. There wasn't that much competition online. 

My question is why? 

Several critics bemuse the thought that this reality show won't see a season two. Others are fans who appreciated the introspective this show provides into the life of ad agencies. At first, the PR this show received was great — live tweeting, the participating companies answering its questions in real time, and even AMC getting into the mix. Then came the hipsters. 

Like a rush of douche into a Starbucks, here was a deluge of over-bearded, self-indulgent people who made the Greek legend Narcissus seem bashful. Regardless of ad, marketing, or PR agencies, these people just helped hurl the stink on our industry. Naturally, AMC's production crew reveled in those making targets...stars out of those people, so there's not much groaning that would work there. 

Despite it all, I enjoyed it. I was finally able to see what others in my field do and, for the most part, I feel very confident in my skill set. 

Your question is why? 

If brilliant ideas like "zAMbies" from WDCW don't get selected by Subway, then perhaps I'm overestimating clients from big brand land. I was thinking maybe I couldn't make it out there, but maybe there's hope. Some of the people on the show pitched like they had little command of the big idea, much less the English language. I admit, AMC picked some lackluster agencies — one they even used twice. And, between us, using an agency twice in just eight weeks screamed "Jump the Shark" louder than the Fonz in water skis.

There were glimmers of hope on the show. Some great ideas were on exhibition, whether they were chosen or not. Other agency heads proved to be champions of the industry. However, a few notes to the AMC crew, if they are interested:
  1. Lighten up. In the words of a colorful individual I knew once, "Why so serious?" I work at a glorious integrated agency, and most of the people there know what it means to have a good time while being productive. 
  2. Find a muse. There are many bright spots in other agencies nationwide. If you need inspiration, watch a few episodes of "Bosom Buddies," "Bewitched," or even...well, wasn't that chick on "Who's the Boss" in agency life? Ah, the 80s. 
  3. Screw Ray Johnson of SK+G fame. The guy is a ridiculous stereotype of what people think agency folks are like. We're not — not even close. We are a happy-go-lucky group who loves to discover brands, tell stories, and create visual means that bring people into a company. Sure, getting paid is nice, but anyone who thinks it's their idea or no idea needs to go to the local In-N-Out burger and work the fries over. 
  4. Find clients who choose your "losers." The Ad Store and WDCW represented us well. They created great ideas, were not selected (for some unknown reason), and were class acts. Represent! 
  5. Fire your editors. Every reality show based on a skill has role models. Foodies have the acclaimed greats who have won stars, beards, and big bellies. Fashionistas have anyone's name on a label. Singers have most of the people they mock while sounding like a strangled cat. Agencies? How many times were the names of Ogilvy, Burson, Edelman, or even Bernays echoed on the show? Nada. Those hipsters thought that because they could tack a few kitschy slogans on a board, they were great at the job. To use some snark they made popular, "Meh." 
All in all, the show may be cancelled; but alas, I was a fan. I know most "more respected" agencies declined to be on, but there was some true talent on exhibition. You don't have to be a large PR or ad agency to be great at your job. Make the place you're employed as great as you can. At least I try, regardless of what folks think.

P.S. I always loved the irony. This is a reality show about advertising for the most part, and people would mostly record it on a DVR and skip commercials. Nice.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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