I hope your next pitch is a bad one

“Difficult to tell”.  Every senior agency executive is contractually obliged to utter these words, when emerging from a pitch.  And in truth, reading the runes of these affairs is about as easy as predicting the next Pope.  (NB: I lost interest in this when, as usual, Scotland was knocked out before the main tournament).

I was once in a pitch where the other agency’s presentation was going on next door, while we set up in an adjoining room.  As we unpacked our artbags, we heard gales of laughter coming through the partition.  Our hearts sank as we imagined the amazing chemistry that seemed to be occurring on the other side: the mutual back-slapping, high-fiving, air-kissing and hand-shaking.

As the laughter rose, our morale plummeted.  And our hopes were dashed completely when our own presentation was met with the kind of deathly silence usually accorded to Jim Davidson, playing to a multicultural audience, at the local morgue.

Given all these depressing omens, we couldn’t believe it when we were given the business and asked how this could be when our rivals had clearly had them rolling in the aisles. Now it was our clients’ turn for incredulity.  The other agency had already left, they explained, and the marketing team were just laughing at how unremittingly awful they’d been.

Just goes to show how unpredictable our business is.  How our version of chemistry isn’t as scientific as the real thing.  How we can get things so wrong – even when we’re getting them right.

Here’s hoping we all have a “bad pitch” or two this year.  As they often turn out to be the best.

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