Finding Satisfaction in the Fuzzy Middle
Peter Panda

For those of us who own, manage or simply work at an agency, we understand that there are wins, losses, and sometimes a fuzzy middle where we’re not even sure if we won or lost. The reality is we don’t always get what we want, don’t nail every pitch or presentation, don’t always have the brilliant idea, and sometimes don’t even get sent the RFP.

By the way, word to the wise: don’t believe anyone — anyone — who tells you they’ve never lost a pitch.

But we all try to get what we want, to nail every pitch or presentation, to come up with brilliant ideas, and certainly, we’d like to at least receive the RFPs.

Today I had one of those “fuzzy middle” moments where I wasn’t quite sure if we’d won or lost.

The backstory: We’ve been pegged as somewhat of an idea shop. When a company needs something a bit out of the ordinary or perhaps a unique approach at a vexing challenge, we might get thrown a project and asked to take a swing.

In this case, we’d been asked by a very large multinational company to submit a concept for an unusual brand accoutrement. It wasn’t something around which the brand thought it could necessarily drive sales, but it was one of those quirky brand extensions that oftentimes engages consumers in a unique way and creates brand affinity.

So we gathered our team, took a few concepts and did a build, knitting together a collaboration of several ideas into one that we thought would not only have some traction in building brand affinity, but also tie somewhat into sales.

Two weeks later we got word.

“Not going to be able to do the idea man,” the client contact said. “It was the best idea I’ve received since I’ve been here. I will figure out how to get you guys a meeting down here. It’s worth our digital team seeing how social campaigns can truly work to drive business.”

And while we’d love — absolutely love — to work with this brand and put our creative chops to the test, I’ll take it. Sure, definitively, we lost. But the response tells me we’re definitely doing something right.

For now, I’ll take the fuzzy middle. We won.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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