The Pitch. Everything I Hate About Advertising.


Posted by on 13 June, 2012


The Summary

The Pitch, a reality show aimed to capitalize on the success of AMC’s Mad Men, pits two advertising agencies against each other for a real account. So far, companies like PopChips, Frangelico, Subway, Waste Management, and JDRF (a non-profit organization funding Type 1 Diabetes Research) have been the “prize” accounts in each episode. One firm wins the account worth millions of dollars; the other is left in disarray, trying to pick up the pieces and explain why it lost. Sometimes in tears.

Awww. Doesn’t that just tug at your heartstrings? Yeah, me neither. But I digress.

The Pitch is actually a pretty accurate glimpse into today’s ad world and if you are considering hiring an ad agency, you should strongly consider watching the series with an objective eye.

The Purpose

The purpose of the post is two-fold.

1. It serves as a place for me to rant my abhorrence for certain short-comings of ad agencies, and

2. It serves as a place for me to rant my abhorrence for certain short-comings of ad agencies.

The Pitch

At the very least this post should give you some things to think about the next time you are in a pitch session with an Edmonton advertising agency.

At the very most, this post will end up saving you bags and bags of money.

Advertisements are literally farts in the wind.


Really. Expensive. Farts in the wind. For every one killer idea like “Just Do It.” or “Got Milk?” there are millions of loser ideas worth billions of wasted dollars. As Edmonton-boy and Jones Soda founder, Peter van Stolk, says “Advertising is tax for being unremarkable.” And he should know. He took on the two biggest soft drink companies in the world and won. Without advertising.

Ads make noise for a moment.

And then they’re gone forever.

Ad agencies tend to primarily be staffed by kids.


And while there’s nothing wrong with a little piss and vinegar, it’s the seasoned vets who you want working for you. The challenge with kids is that kids are distracted. Kids don’t pay attention to details. Kids are busy LOL’ing, Pinning, and Tweeting. Kids don’t know better. And if kids don’t know what’s best for themselves, how can they possibly know what’s best for the client’s business?

Hi I’m your new account coordinator. Wanna Tweet me? 😉 ❤

Ad agencies think they are more creative than anyone.

I’d even go as far to say ad agency folks think that they’re better than all of us too. Of course we would all like to work in advertising if we could, but we’re just not quite clever enough to.


Sorry to burst the bubble, but great ideas are the ideas that work. The admin assistant from the client’s office is just as likely to come up with a great idea as any ad agency. In fact, she’s even more likely because she’s on the front lines, living the experience every day.

Ad agencies tend to be staffed by ‘yes men’ (of both sexes).


NO. I will not expand on this.

Ad agencies sell fixed concepts.


Instead of healthy collaboration to solve business challenges such as how to strengthen the company’s position, how to improve office culture, or how to realign the corporate vision, advertisers are only able to resort to the one trick in their bag—”The Big Idea.” You know, those cute-sy concepts and and “cool,” “clever,” “sticky” campaigns.

(If you ever hear the word “sticky” in a presentation or pitch, run. You can thank me later.)

The Conclusion

The days of Mad Men are over.


Except the part about drinking scotch at 10am. That’s alive and well. Advertising is just a part of the marketing mix these days. It doesn’t rule the mix any more than social media or a website does.

While there will always be people who love advertising agencies, many realize that for any integrated campaign to work, it needs a strong brand foundation built on clarity, purpose and promise.

Sadly some organizations always go to an ad agency first, and that is usually to the detriment of the client and the campaign as a whole.


No comments yet

Add your own comment...

Preferably your real name
Your address will remain private
Play nice