Thoughts on The Pitch Episode 4

May 16, 2012

I work in advertising. This means I’m going to watch AMC’s newest advertising show, The Pitch, which conveniently airs right after Mad Men. Part of me loves this show because I get to analyze criticize the pitches. The other part of me hates it because I understand the stress involved in creating the right ad. This week’s battle was between the agencies Conversation and BooneOakley.

The agencies each have one week from brief to pitch to analyze, concept, execute, and sell their solutions to the company’s problem. This week, Conversation and BooneOakley were faced with the challenge of creating a concept that would encourage conversation about Popchips between consumers. Popchips wanted an online sensation that resonated with their brand.

Cut to various scenes of panic and throwing terrible ideas on the board. Disclaimer: Nobody comes up with a good idea without throwing bad ideas out there first. Creativity happens best when collaborators bring any and every idea to the table, regardless of whether it’s good or bad. It is in this freedom to think, explore, and suggest that brilliant concepts are born. Creatives that are afraid to speak their minds because of fear of being deprecated are less creative than those who understand not every idea is good, but the process of arriving at the big idea is good, and stifled process = stifled ideas.

Conversation’s main idea man arrived at the idea that they needed to pitch “the world’s longest viral video.” His team came out against the idea, but they ran with it. Their Year of Pop concept’s aim was to create the most-of-every-possible-statistic-measured-on-viral-videos viral video.

BooneOakley seemed to be struggling without their more strategic thinker, who was MIA because of an uncooperative gallbladder. They eventually arrived at the encompassing theme “make life pop.” Cut to the pitch.

I thought BooneOakley’s pitch spoke more to who Popchips presented themselves to be at the initial brief. Make Life Pop included awesome event concepts, such as creating pop art displays with the Popchips bags and a marathon run on bubble wrap. I loved the initial concept, and I thought the events planned around this theme were just as strong, but what was lacking was a clear focus and method/plan to drive the social (media) interaction that Popchips wanted.

Conversation pitched their Year of Pop concept, which is to create the most contributed to and most viewed and all that jazz viral video. Their pitch had a tech snafu, but they recovered quickly. No matter what the malfunction is, I always sympathize with people who have the problems because, let’s face it, it could happen to any one of us.

Conversation pitched a viral video. It’s never possible to guarantee that a video will go viral. Any amount of effort put into a video doesn’t guarantee that your original content will become an internet sensation. The Viral Variable is just that – a variable. Conversation had a campaign ready to go at the push of a button, which is what I think solidified the decision for Popchips. They had a campaign that looked like it was ready to take off, with little-to-no effort or investment on their part. BooneOakley’s campaign would have taken more work, and I think that’s what made all the difference in the decision.

I think the Year of Pop is going to fail miserably. BooneOakley’s ideas would have been viral sensations without trying to be – and that’s the beauty of viral. We the consumers determine what’s popular and succesful, and Conversation’s campaign insults us. Conversation stated that they, the content generator, determine what’s popular and successful. That is simply false.

Overall, I think both agencies had shortcomings. BooneOakley needed a clear plan of execution that produced measurable results. Conversation needed to reevaluate how and why viral content becomes viral and they could have had a stronger concept. BooneOakley’s concept was, in my opinion, the better concept, but I think Popchips was a bit moth attracted to the lights from Conversation’s overzealous promises. The light sure is beautiful, but as you get closer and closer to it, you are inching closer and closer to your electrifying demise. Say goodnight, Year of Pop.