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I like the bit about the French. Keep that and you've got a good article.

And what about them damn Yankees? They've hosted more Olympic games than the UK could ever dream of. Which must mean they're better at pitching. Just look how they sold Tony Blair on that whole Iraqi fandangle.

I haven't read the book either (plan to now) but here's some suggestions, as a pitcher
a. Don't forget us Yanks. I work at DraftFCB, which just won WalMart. I didn't work on it, but saw it from afar, and it was well done. Of course, I did learn how to pitch from a British Planner, so there is that. But I think we do it well here.
b. I think a key thing about the pitch is that it can, properly managed, be a reminder to the rest of the agency about how good they really can be. It can bring out the best thinking, collaboration and teamwork across groups that don't always get to work together. Cross training happens by accident, additional skills are added - account folks get to taste research, media gets to be more creative. All of this can be transferred to other entities - creating pitch like scenarios that force close collaboration, smart thinking, creativity short turn around and pass/fail grading.

Some thoughts.

Does that mean we have to roll out David Beckham and a couple of minor Royals every time we pitch for a major piece of business? :-)

...or is the agency equivalent the chief exec and head of new business who are never seen again after the business is won?

I think this is good too.

I wonder if there are other industries that pitch as often and as hard?

Might be nice to include some of that fantastic stuff from those old salesman's records you used to have on the podcasts. If you can do that in print?

I'm sure there's some great analogies to dating. Old school dating that is. Not this new fangled group thing where you actually become friends first.

Screenwriters, producers and directors working in film and television repeatedly face the challenge of having less than 60 seconds to convince the people in power to buy into their ideas.

Every time they phone an agent or production company or producer to discuss their new story or script, they must be prepared to answer the question, ‘So, what’s your movie about?’

Their response will often be the difference between getting rejected and getting their material read and made.

So the need for a succinct, powerful, 1-to 3-minute pitch is imperative for these folks.

What would a new business pitch be like if we only had 1 - 3 minutes to pitch??

"So, what's your campaign about?"

I think a big part of pitching is telling a story and building relationships across the entire period, not just in the two hour meeting. That old approach of the big reveal in pitches is a bit weird. Everything that happens by the final stage should make sense and not come out of the blue. Otherwise it would be a bit like getting to the end of Star Wars and finding out that Han Solo is actually a transexual. And hoping that you're audience will be so surprised by the leap that it somehow becomes believable and desirable.

(Not sure if that analogy worked, but there you go)

So the time spent building relationships and putting things in place, and sharing ideas and thoughts with clients before the final day, is vital. It also takes the pressure off the final day as they feel emotionally invested in the work and strategy by then too.

I've always likened pitches to mini court trials in which we're trying to present our case to a jury (client). We too, especially as planners, need to persuade the jury with the "evidence" of why our ideas are strong and showmanship can be obviously be critical in our line of work also ("if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.)

Pitching in tv is, as someone else has pointed out, a much more superficial process.
You have to able to tell the network exec in front of you what your show is about in one sentence, so he can pass it up the line to the person who really makes decisions. And when it reaches that bloke, he needs a line he can bandy around to his mates in the business that sounds cool and won't embarrass him.
As my boss says when we go to pitch something to BBC or ITV - "We're selling sizzle not sausage".
In the advertising pitches I remember when I worked in the business, all the decision makers were in the room and the sizzle and the sausage were sold at the same time - every detail in the pitch had, in theory, to be spot on; you had to be able to show your workings out - a huge pain in the arse.
The ideal pitch situation is Radio 4, where they make a decision on the likely quality of the sausage just by reading the recipe you have written down on a piece of paper.
I think all pitching should be done on this basis and not by sizzle-related flim-flam.

"show your workings out". I love that.

Imagine if client's pitch documents read more like exam questions, "explain in 100 powerpoint slides or less how you would promote this brand. Show all workings."

Russell: If that post is actually from Richard Wilson then you have reached a new level of celebrity!

Sound point though Richard. Only problem is that I doubt many places are actually good judges of the quality of sausages. It should be the role of the ad agency to know that they are making good sausages and be able to explain WHY they are so to the less knowledgable client.

And, as usual I agree with Gemma.

I think we won the Olympics because of a "voting error": http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/4553116.stm

But that's not to take anything away from you gold medalists in the Ad industry.

I can't comment on whether the UK are the best pitchers, as I sit here in sunny Sydney, but we did get the Olympics 12 years sooner ;-)

An interesting post on Diablogue about how Saatchi Sydney managed to win a piece of business with the blog as a pivotal tool. Excellent stuff....


For the ambitious marketer, insight is like 'crack' - totally addictive.

And given there is all this talk about the Olympics - read 'Lord Of The New Rings' [especially those of you in Sydney].

Are we really better at pitching in the UK? I agree that it's probably the most competitive and oversupplied marketplace, but the stakes tend to be much higher in the US. Wouldn't that tend to make them good at it?
I don't think there is such a thing as a 'perfect' pitch. They're all different. What works for one client will bomb with another. Good agencies can do dreadful pitches and vice versa. After many years of doing it. I still don't really think there's a relaible system for the successful pitch.

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