Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web
When Russell started this ‘school’, he ensured there was a lot of variety in his challenges because he believed [and I presume still does] that modern communication requires people who are creative generalists – not just specialists.
Gareth, Andrew and I have tried to continue that tradition [but if we haven’t, don’t tell us, we’re sensitive little souls] however we are also conscious that we don’t want to stray too far away from the fundamental reasons A[P]SOTW was set up in the first place.
With all that in mind, this assignment has been developed to test a number of things that are vital in the modern world of communication:
Originally I was going to set you the objective of protecting the revenue of the increasingly irrelevant Yellow Pages ‘book’ – however I’ve decided to save that for another day because I want us to focus on another important tool in the planners arsenal, the ability to present.
I’m not talking about writing powerpoint decks – we’ve touched on that in previous assignments and I wrote a post about that a while back – I’m talking about the physical ‘pitch’ presentation of which these 2 are great examples:
THE FACTUAL ONE
THE FICTIONAL ONE
[If the clip doesn’t work, click here]
The reason I’ve shown you these 2 videos is even though one is talking about something new [not just literally, but interms of tech] and the other is aiming to make people look at something old, with fresh and excited eyes … they both engage, excite and entice because the presenter has the ability to take the audience on a journey where they get emotionally entwined with the thinking, the idea, the benefit and the occasion.
This is way more than just being entertaining or gimmicky, it’s about purposeful inspiration … which is why I believe they are both great examples of my beloved [and BBH developed] ethos of ‘don’t sell, get people to buy’.
So what’s the actual assignment …
Well it’s basically a pitch presentation … except your job is not just to develop a strategy and idea to solve a specified problem, but to pitch it to the judges as if you were in the room and doing it in the flesh.
Look I know for many people, public speaking is absolutely terrifying … but it is incredibly important … not just to win business, but to be able to convey your message at conferences, meetings or just in life – so even if the thought of a ‘live presentation’ scares the living bejesus out of you, I encourage you to have a go and I assure you all feedback will be constructive and take into account your particular circumstances.
[Don’t panic, we’re not looking for presentations with uber-slick camera shots and lighting, afterall as much as both the videos above were directed by highly paid professionals calculating every shot and angle, at their heart it’s just a person with a screen taking an audience on a journey of emotional & commercial value]
Now before I get to the challenge you’ll be answering in your presentation, I just want to talk about the role of pitches.
As far as I am concerned, most pitches are won/lost before any presentation takes place.
The ability to schmooze, knobble, manipulate and emotionally ‘connect’ are quite often far more effective at winning business than a great idea presented flawlessly.
Then there’s the situation where a client ignores the quality of the idea and just chooses an agency based on an execution or some gimmick.
As I’ve said, I’m not into ‘flash’ or ‘gimmicks’ … but as much as many pitch presentations are quite often a bit of a sham, there are occasions where what you say and how you present will make a massive difference to the outcome [excluding the millions of times where you’ll have to present an idea/view to a client/colleague] so being able to present to an audience in an engaging and captivating manner – so by the time you’ve finished, they’re believers and followers rather than passive spectators – is unbelievably valuable.
So let’s get to what the business issue is we need you to get your head around shall we?
“How can ‘Head & Shoulders’ shampoo be seen as the brand men [18-35] should use every day, rather than just on the occasions they think they have a dandruff issue”
That’s it … a one line uber-basic, uber-ambigious brief.
I’ve not done this because I can’t be arsed to write something more complicated … or I don’t know how to write something more complicated … I’ve done it because  often that is what many pitch briefs ultimately come down to, with 800 pages of irrelevant brand ego waffle shoved inbetween and  I want to keep if fairly basic because not only do you have to work out what to do, you have to work out how you’re going to make us choose you in just 10 minutes as if you were in the room with us.
[Saying that, it would be good if you could develop ideas that go beyond ‘Dandruff Stops You Getting Laid’… however if you must go down that route, make sure your thinking, evidence and presentation lifts it out of the gutter, ha!]
Quality of thinking
Quality of strategy/core idea
Clarity of presentation
Infectiousness of idea
Magnetism of presentation
As usual, I’ve asked a bunch of people to help me judge this and they are:
Chris, Regional CEO of M&C Saatchi Asia
[best new biz guy I’ve ever seen – let alone worked with – in my entire life]
Stephen, a leading UK based barrister
[a master in the art of persuasion – and in matters more important than marketing]
Dominic, lead planner on NIKE [China] at Wieden & Kennedy
Jonah, venture capitalist at ThinkorSwim
[gets pitched to 200 times a year. Every year]
Freddie, planning director at BBH
Rebecca, screen writer at Dreamworks
[also worked for ‘High Concept’ pitch masters, Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer]
Gareth, God at Goodby’s
Andrew, God of planning [& DigForFire/DMG], swimming & cooking
1/ We just want to hear about the idea – we don’t need to see other materials unless you feel it necessary or desirable to show.
2/ No video is allowed to be more than 10 minutes in duration.
[You can submit this via a file or on Youtube, but if the latter, please let us know if you are OK with us pointing people to it after the judging has taken place]
3/ No documentation is allowed to be submitted to support your video presentation.
4/ As much there will be the temptation to take the piss, this is serious and we want you to present as if you were there in the room with us.
Right, that’s all the judging bits over … and to prove I/we are not complete and utter bastards, here’s some links that might give you some tips if at this point you’re in ‘blank mind hell.
Entries to be sent to this address by midnight GMT, May 22nd
Any problems/questions/issues – drop me a line, but most of all enjoy it – take our minds on a journey of discovery and adventure but make sure it has substance and logic because great business people only sign on the line when it makes business sense to them, not just emotional.
Oh, and whilst I said this assignment was to help planners develop and sell better work, it is not limited to them … infact I encourage anyone who wants to have a go to enter, because not only is there no ‘wrong answer’ [so you don’t have to worry about looking silly, which you wouldn’t anyway] the fact is there are many situations in life where having the ability to persuade someone to think your way would be useful – especially where debt collectors are concerned, ha!
42 Comments so far
Leave a comment