To Pitch or Not to Pitch

May 27th, 2012

Bozell’s behind the scenes of AMC’s The Pitch.

The Pitch is AMC’s new original docu-series where two advertising agencies go head-to-head to compete for a piece of real business. Of the 26,000 agencies in the world, Bozell was one of 15 agencies chosen to participate.

Bozell’s main concern with doing the show was that the agency would not be portrayed accurately. Without control of the final edit, there were no guarantees. But Studio Lambert, the show’s producer and creator of CBS’s Undercover Boss, helped convince the managing partners that they would merely document behind-the-scenes agency activity. After much trepidation, the partners decided, win or lose, this would be a good opportunity to show the rest of the country that smart, creative thinking is alive and well in the Midwest.


The client, we were told, was JDRF and we couldn’t be happier. We had not only worked with JDRF’s Omaha chapter in the past, but each year Bozell donates time and talent to charitable organizations. All part of founder Morris Jacobs’ belief that we should all “pay rent for the space that we occupy on this earth.” So the stage was set and in less than a week we were on our way to New York City to receive the brief from JDRF.

Our Competition: Muse Communications from Los Angeles.
Our Assignment: Create a campaign that enhances awareness of type 1 diabetes, establishing it in the public eye as a serious, chronic disease that affects people of all ages, and increase awareness of JDRF as the organization dedicated to type 1 diabetes.

Typically we would come up with several concepts to present, as many of the other agencies that appeared on the program did, but JDRF specifically asked us to come back with one buzz-creating idea that utilized non-traditional media. The budget was tight and so was our timeline – just the kind of pressure on which we thrive.

For the next 10 days, cameras followed us everywhere, recording our discussions, debates, arguments and overall ideation. Some of us were even filmed at home, in restaurants and at church. Specific creative teams were selected to come up with concepts with guidance from our social media and digital departments. The accelerated timeline and ever-present film crew kept us on our toes, and the “big idea” had to be determined quickly. After two days, we settled on one idea and began fleshing out presentation materials, including online banner ads, video storyboards, website mockups, an anthem video with original music, and a stunt to be staged outside JDRF headquarters the morning of our pitch.

As you may have already seen, after presenting our big idea, JDRF selected our campaign for its originality and smart use of digital and social media.

Our experience on The Pitch was a great one. Several of the big agencies declined AMC’s offer to be on the show, claiming it might reveal their “secret sauce.” The real secret, though, is that there is no secret sauce. Great advertising is about smart, talented people coming together to turn insights into creative marketing solutions that influence people to try and trust a brand. The real risk agencies faced by appearing on The Pitch was losing on national television. Fortunately for us, that wasn’t the case. But, even if we had lost, knowing that for one hour we helped shed light on JDRF’s fight to end type 1 diabetes is something we would have always considered a win.