Yesterday was the finale of a 3-month pitch, the full-on gantlet type: detailed RFP, “chemistry” meeting, interim working meeting, and the ultimate presentation to the CEO and her courtiers.

It was good. Real good. Smoke-a-cigarette-after good.

I quit cigarettes 23 years ago, so this post and its musings will have to do.

Honestly—is there anything better than a clean brief and no process except kick as much ass as you can in the time allotted? Pitches—especially those where agencies are asked to do spec creative—are fubar in many ways, and everyone whinges about it at 4As meetings and such. But looked at another way, it’s what we do in its purest form, and at no point in the agency-client relationship is it going to get better.

And being a principal in a small agency, and having a partner who knows what he’s doing, I know we can leave it all on the field and make some other agency beat us.

I worked at two large agencies where that wasn’t the case.

At both places, there would be this moment at the end of pitches that I dreaded: the CEO Takes Off His Reading Glasses and Stands Up Moment. Otherwise known as the If You Just Shut the Fuck Up We’ll Win This Moment. Where in 5 minutes of pointless bloviation, the guy would demonstrate that a) he hadn’t seen the work or thought about the prospect’s business until right before the presentation; and b) would in all likelihood continue at that level of involvement going forward. And months of work and 2 hours of great presentation would go down the drain.

I don’t know if we’re going to get this business. I think we should. But I’ll have no regrets if we don’t. I think I’m going to go walk the dog now. And smoke a cigar.


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