Compared to last week’s battle for the Waste Management account, episode three of AMC’s The Pitch was quite tame. We didn’t get any office in-fighting, nor any neglected children, nor anyone fitting the villainous depiction of SK+G’s ruthless creative director, Ray Johnson. But, we did find comfort in the fact that sometimes, even if it’s only once in a great while, the client picks the better concept at the end of the day.
And we still got to see people cry. Oh man, did we ever get to see people cry. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The episode opens with the two competing agencies, Houston-based FKM (clients include Phillips 66 and Bertolli Olive Oil) and Toronto-based The Hive (who have done work for Reebok, Trident and Nos) flying out to Tampa, FL to meet with Scott Boose, the president of Clockwork Home Services. Now, given that the agencies have only about a week of turnaround time to prepare the pitch, the brief from Clockwork is somewhat daunting: Create a “tri-branded integrated promotional campaign” that Clockwork can use to advertise each its three sub-brands, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mister Sparky Electric, separately. Boose warns both agencies, “We aren’t looking for you to come back and recommend one brand.” So, of course, you know someone’s going to try to do exactly that.
Back in Houston, we’re given a little history of FKM. We meet agency president and CCO Scott Brown, who tells us that a good portion of his own financial well-being is dependent on the agency’s success. (“They put their faith in me.”) Unfortunately, the agency is located in Houston, a city with an ad scene that Brown admits has fallen off in recent years. He also introduces us to his management style, which includes locking his employees in the office for a 24-hour brainstorming session, taking away their phones to minimize distraction. As Brown says, “If you want people to concentrate, you have to take all of the noise away.” Don’t be surprised if your own CCO uses the move after seeing it in action on TV.
FKM is divided into three strategic brainstorming teams: one that focuses on innovation, one that focuses on interactivity, and one that focuses on meaningfulness. We’re told by AMC that the FKM brainstorming session provided the agency a variety of ideas. However, we only see one, which stems from Brown’s fixation on the word “help,” as he suggests that Clockwork values customer service above all else. After a brief client phone call, the agency feels confident that they’re on the right track, and base their campaign around an idea that will make the brand’s phones ring.
Though Clockwork isn’t the sexiest of brands (at least compared to the subjects of the two previous episodes, Subway and Waste Management), the Hive is looking to use the client win as a way to “broaden the agency’s footprint in U.S. market” according to president and CEO Andy Krupski. In Toronto, Krupski brags about his agency’s tremendous growth and office atmosphere, a “work hard, play hard” mentality that contrasts with FKM’s.
After encouraging his employees to visit FKM’s website (where they laugh at Brown’s intro video), Krupski introduces us to his new managing director, Trent Fulton. After getting a bit stumped, Fulton decides to tie the brands together under the idea of “direct,” influenced by the name of Clockwork’s new parent company, Direct Energy. Now, if you’ll recall, this kind of strategy is exactly what Clockwork told the agencies not to do (RUH ROH!). A phone call with the client emphasizes this fact, forcing The Hive back to the drawing board. They are sad, but then, they totally should be.
Brad, an art director at The Hive with a prominent stocking cap, comes up with the idea of “The Time is Money Truck.” More of a tactic than a campaign, this truck would hypothetically drive around reminding people that Clockwork companies are time-saving entities who save companies money. During the course of the promotion, Clockwork would keep track of how much money they’re saving customers, giving away a large jackpot to one lucky consumer. This idea also includes a storyboard for a commercial, showing a consumer shattering her own toilet when she hears of the opportunity to win big. At the pitch, the clients seem to absolutely loathe this concept. After all, Benjamin Franklin is a plumbing company, not a toilet company. Cue the sad trombones.
The second concept The Hive presents is called “America’s On-Time Heroes.” In a video, the agency says that, being from Toronto, they’ve been able to watch their American neighbors to the south grow and tell their story. Despite this being a group of Canadians’ interpretation of American patriotism, Clockwork calls this “a great idea” (really?).
Meanwhile, FKM’s brand development director, Philippa Campbell, nervously rehearses for her agency’s presentation. It turns out Campbell’s own future with the agency could be contingent on winning the account, so AMC really wants you to know that she’s Philippin’ freaking out (derp). Luckily, the presentation for FKM’s concept, “+Help”, seems to go off without a hitch. The concept is that Clockwork’s three brands don’t just offer their advertised services, they offer a half hour of help for free. What is this help? Anything the consumer asks for, from helping walk the dog to giving the customer a haircut. Brown tells the client that, in actuality, maybe two people nationwide will actually follow-through with the haircut offer, and even that will be a huge PR opportunity for the brand. When the client mentions that the idea is off-brand, Scott argues skilfully that it actually isn’t, and is instead a bold way to emphasize the company’s current positioning as those who put customer service first.
And now, the verdict:
The Hive is absolutely shocked that they lose (really?). While the rest of the agency is scratching their heads wondering what could’ve gone wrong, art director Brad puts his head on the table and cries. If you thought his presentation of “The Time is Money Truck” was awkward, well, just wait until you see him pout.
Meanwhile, Brown announces FKM’s rightly deserved win to the rest of the agency, proving that, believe it or not, a winning campaign idea and a snappy tagline are not one in the same (consider this, agencies). Then, Brown cries tears of joy. Yes, The Pitch last night was basically a poor knockoff of the America’s Next Top Model finale.
The episode ends with FKM’s new TV spot for Clockwork Home Services, part of the winning “+Help” campaign which will see an official rollout a week from today. However, if you can find the spot online, please throw us a link, won’t you?
Meanwhile, I’d like to suggest that, in the future, AMC pays close attention to ensuring that neither agency spoils the result before the show. Pretend you don’t know anything last night’s episode, view each agency’s homepage as it was before the show debuted, and see if you can guess who won.
What did you think of the result? Let us know in the comments, dear readers.