April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012

The Pitch

Though not a person who often thinks outside the box, I understand the utility of those who can. While watching The Pitch recently (sort of a real-life modern-day Mad Men), I saw two advertising firms compete for a chance to present Subway’s newish breakfast program to the masses. Everything about how these places operate is alien to me. Everyone’s wearing casual clothing, often with one crazy accent (neon yellow shoes, purple hipster glasses, etc.). Offices have exposed brick and glass walls, and desks are strewn with funny objects and signs.

Cabinet-Department-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, it ain’t. And I’m cool with that, because I am a person who thinks inside the box. I would teach children geography by drilling them on lists of capitals. A creative would probably bake them cupcakes, leading to the awesomest geography lesson ever.

What I enjoyed about The Pitch was seeing the different approaches. One team found a guy on YouTube who rapped about making breakfast. They hired him to do a rap about Subway’s breakfast. QED. Another team capitalized on the zombies-in-pop-culture phenomenon and developed a campaign about not being a breakfast zombie, or zAMbie (AM = morning, get it?). A third team envisioned something about stop-motion talking breakfast sandwiches, but that was shot down pretty quickly.

[Side note: While watching TV during my London visit, I noticed that a significant number of adverts there include mascots who are animated, puppets, or singing. Lots of jingles and characters. It’s like US advertising of the 1960s. I need to see The Pitch: UK Version and I need to see it now.]

So the firms packaged their best campaigns, flew to Subway World HQ to present, and absorbed Subway’s feedback. It was reminiscent of pitch meetings in Mad Men, except:

- No alcohol.
- No cigarettes.
- Minorities present.
- Women present.
- Roger Sterling did not demean the clients with a witty cutting remark when they said it wasn’t quite what they were looking for.

One team ended up getting the contract, and one team ended up losing. Even the creative industry is a business, after all.

I don’t plan to watch any more episodes, unless the subject is a brand I really care about. Real-life Mad Men just isn’t as compelling, frankly. Don Draper doesn’t wear hipster glasses.

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