I was reading on BBC Sport how triumphant Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola showed a specially made film 10 minutes before the final in Rome. The film featured highlights of his players' finest moments – featuring every member of the squad – and was set to the soundtrack of Gladiator. We all know what happened afterwards. Great Men made Rome Great (awesome ad before the Champions League final by Nike, and now they’ve changed it to reflect Barca as winners, and it’s even better!).
This reminded me of agency pitches. Major pitches are big games to use the metaphor. But how often do we prepare properly? How well are we rehearsed? Do we as a pitch team get shown the movie (metaphorically) – to inspire, to charge us up, thin the blood, make the adrenalin rush to our heads to we can go flat out and conquer?
Having been to more pitches over the last few weeks than I would like to remember, I see this as an area our whole industry can build on. Some of the pitches are spot on, the content is great, it addresses the brand, answers the brief, but sometimes the team is so lifeless, so listless, so yawn boring, that you wouldn’t buy peanuts from them, let alone give them your brand to handle. And on other occasions, the prep work is so poor that the clients are astounded at how off-brief the presentation is. Either way, it isn’t a winning scenario.
I believe winning pitches is about chemistry. If you have your ingredients right, it all boils down to who’s in the room and how well they can sell the stuff. Wizards pulling rabbits out of hats. That’s what we need.
I believe only the best presenters should present. The rocket scientists who engineer the space shuttle stay behind in Houston, and NASA finds their best of breed astronauts to do the moon landings. That to me is the winning formula. In the pitch room – the moon landing phase – we need to find the astronauts who will go that one small step that becomes a giant leap for all.
Finally, there always needs to be a Guardiola for every magic trick that Barca did this year. The pitch team needs a leader, a coach, a go-to guy who mentors the team, checks the moves, drives and makes the content coherent and finally, who can stand there and make it all look credible. He’s the guy, or she’s the gal, who strategically is sound, is credible in front of the client, and who is passionate about the art of winning. He can change his team, change tactics half way through the pitch, and who coordinates the players.
He’s the one who plays the movie for the team. And he’s the one who helps unfold the drama.