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For Better Or Worse: Reputation Afterglow is the Biggest Takeaway From Episode Three of AMC’s “The Pitch”


In case you’ve missed it, AMC has added another marketing industry program to its lineup this season called “The Pitch.” Instead of a scripted drama like “Mad Men,” it’s a new, weekly reality TV show in which two advertising agencies are pitted against one another in an effort to win a company’s business.

As a marketer, it’s hard not to be enthralled by the competitive challenges faced by each week’s two agencies. They find themselves in situations I’ve often been in myself–trying to find purpose, developing a creative narrative, trying to resonate with the appropriate target audience, and creating a program that ultimately delivers a return on the investment.

But as someone steeped in corporate reputation management, I find the afterglow of each competition also shines a light on the cultures of each agency involved. And that, for better or worse, can have a lasting impact on the reputation of each agency featured on “The Pitch.”

Take the most recent episode, in which Toronto-based The Hive faced off against Houston’s FKM in an effort to win the business of home services conglomerate Clockwork.

Each agency was tasked with creating a “tri-branded integrated promotional campaign” integrating Clockwork’s three branded service companies — One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating, Mister Sparky, and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

And while I personally found each agency’s final pitches to be less than stimulating, perhaps that was because I was most compelled, or possibly distracted, by the personal and cultural contrasts between The Hive and FKM.

In short, I kept asking myself, “Would I want to work for this agency?”

The Hive is led by Andy Krupski, whose overflowing confidence bordered on ridiculous arrogance (hypocritical moment number one), and while at first all I could think was how unlikeable he was, Krupski’s personality slowly grew on me. The more I watched, the more I learned about the culture of the agency, the creative-minded space in which they worked, The Hive’s willingness to cut against the grain, be honest with prospective clients, and how that ultimately translated into what the agency stood for and delivered.

FKM, in turn, was a corporate shop, led by the structured and far more buttoned-up Scott Brown, he told us early how he had been burdened with the task of essentially saving the agency from irrelevance a year prior.

FKM’s workspace looked like a series of corporate offices, the decorum of the staff could have been plucked from an electric utility company (hypocritical moment number two). And from the point early on when Brown told his employees that they had to turn in their cell phones so they could all concentrate on the big pitch – it seemed FKM was less a field of ideas where creativity grows, and more a process-driven idea mill where functional thoughts are manufactured.

That being said, neither of the approaches of The Hive or FKM was ostensibly wrong. Different ideas and approaches appeal to different people. They were simply from each end of the spectrum, and in the end, FKM won Clockwork’s business with a reasonable idea that paralleled the initial “ask” of the company’s chief executive, Scott Boose, and chief marketing officer.

But despite that – based on my personal beliefs on how more creative environments can drive more productive marketing solutions – for me, the afterglow of “The Pitch” made it very easy to answer the question of where I’d rather work: The Hive.

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