January 31, 2005
Styrofoam your pitch
In the world of advertising a new pitch is always on its way. The perfect pitch is a breathtaking tour de force in fast obtained knowledge, strategy and planning extravaganza, fresh insights, groundbreaking creative, lots of ideas from all sides and finally a solid way to present it all.
There are probably as many ways to present the breakthrough ideas as there are agencies and individuals. But nevertheless I was asked the other day to sum up a few simple rules of thumb. I told all the usual suspects.
Be authentic - present in the language of your agency and yourself. Sense your audience -if the potential clients have seen four other presentations the same day you’ll have to cut to chase (in Hollywood they call it the elevator pitch). The actual presentation should be an imaginative exercise. Not a dull “empty phrase” PowerPoint. Therefore you should integrate lots of film, photos and even physical objects in the room. If it’s relevant you could even add a thought provoking stunts (like showing up 20 minutes late for a presentation to The British Rail in order to demonstrate how it feels to be their customer).
Then I stumbled over the last and probably most important rule of thumb about “separating idea and execution”. It comes from Strategy & Planning Director Jeffre Jackson from Wieden + Kennedy’s Amsterdam office who has a great cross-category analogy from the architectural world that shows how the great idea speaks louder than the execution.
What struck me was how much of the space was taken up by Styrofoam models at various levels of detail. One of the architects there explained that this is the only way to make sure that the client understands the overall idea of the building without getting bogged down in details prematurely. It’s a good rule of thumb I try to remember: sell the idea first, then worry about the execution (from a speech Mr. Jackson held to the Danish Advertising Association- DRRB - January 22, 2004).