Where Are They Now?

I recently read in Ad Age that AMC’s advertising reality series The Pitch will be back for season 2, despite mediocre ratings and overwhelming disdain from the industry it supposedly portrays. This time around, the brands involved are even sketchier–College Hunks Hauling Junk? Fuller Brush Co.? And the participating agencies are even more, well, up-and-coming.

As I said last July the pitch process is messed up enough without introducing the three-ring circus of reality TV. It’s already a terrible way to select an agency partner. Throw in the glare of spotlights, and you’ll never make the right decision, build a long-term agency-client relationship or lay the groundwork for a meaningful brand.

So I thought, why not check in with last year’s “winners” and see how they’re doing? After some quick research by our crack team of interns, my suspicions were confirmed.

Week 1:

McKinney won Subway with their “Freestyle Breakfast” idea featuring YouTube rap sensation Mac Lethal. His original video has 29 million views, but there’s no sight of a Subway version anywhere. 0 for 1

Week 2:

SK+G shows Waste Management on their website and includes the work from the show, but the WasteIntoWow.com domain on all elements of the campaign isn’t even live. 0 for 2

Week 3:

FKM shows work for Clockwork Home Services on their website, although the Clockwork website doesn’t say anything about the campaign anywhere. In fact, it shows this gem on its YouTube page instead. 0 for 3

Week 4:

Conversation’s “Year of Pop” seems to have gotten some traction, largely thanks to the addition of Katy Perry. Success! 1 for 4

Week 5:

Kovel/Fuller declares themselves “Proud Winners of AMC’s The Pitch” on their home page, but there’s no mention of Frangelico as a client, nor any examples of work anywhere. So much for that winning streak.      1 for 5

Week 6:

Bozell features “Be the Voice of 1” campaign on their website, and the campaign site is live, so another success story! But wait, the JDRF website has an entirely different look, feel and voice. Not exactly the Voice of 1. Call it a draw. 1.5 for 6

Week 7:

DIGO’s website says it all. When asked “Are you actually doing real work for C. Wonder?” Their answer is “We are indeed. Our values and culture mesh together quite well, and we’ve been working together to evolve the campaign to meet their marketing and brand-building needs. Both agency and client are excited about the process, the campaign, and the success that lies ahead. We expect to launch this year.” So in other words, they’re stuck in focus group hell or back to the drawing board. 1.5 for 7

Week 8:

And finally, neither Marriott International (Autograph Collection) nor winning agency Bandujo, mention anything about the show or any winning idea. 1.5 for 8

So to sum up, a year after Season 1 of The Pitch, only 1.5 out of the 8  “winning” ideas have really seen the light of day. That means a less than 20% success rate for the agency-client relationships. That’s bad. Kardashian bad. No wonder our industry has such a hard time getting any respect, much less recruiting and retaining top talent.

Yet we’re about to be treated to another season following the same exact formula. A formula that conveniently edits out the research, strategy and critical thinking that goes into really solid, brand-building work, in favor of manufactured drama.

I know it’s too late, but rather than trying to pass this off as an inside look at how advertising gets made, why not just drop any shred of reality and at least make it more entertaining? How about 1 night vs. 1 week to come up with the idea? Or agencies vs. ad school students? Maybe that Watson computer from Jeopardy is available?