Lessons from being on AMC’s The Pitch and Winning the Account
By Bill Fletcher and John Rowley
We had a lot of questions when the producers of AMC’s “The Pitch” invited us to participate in the reality TV show last December.
We’re used to being behind the camera, not in front of it. It was a huge time commitment, about eight days of shooting in Nashville, and then there was always the chance we would look bad for one reason or another. A lot of big players in the advertising industry have avoided participating in the show for that very reason. Agreeing to participate in any kind of “reality show” involves losing a certain amount of control over the finished product.
We decided to participate and we’re very glad we did. Now that you have seen the show you know that it looked like we “lost” during the actual filming. Truth is, a few days later filming completed the College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving guys reached out to us and, ultimately, they hired us instead of the firm they selected on the show.
It’s a cautionary tale about some of the limitations of non-scripted television because if it doesn’t happen when the cameras are rolling then it didn’t happen. We had hoped that AMC and the producers might put a note to that effect at the end of the show but we understood when it was made clear to us that the show was edited and locked and they couldn’t make any changes. We were fine with that decision as long as we could tell the rest of the story after the show aired and that’s what we’re doing now.
The producers of the show, All3Media and especially executive producer Domini Hofmann and producers Mike Cotton and Lauren Bissett, were fantastic to work with. They are incredibly passionate about what they do and they took an enormous amount of pride in their work. They worked some really long hours (as our team did) and shot from early morning to late night in some cases. They came to our homes. They filmed John Rowley playing basketball and Fletch cooking a meal with his family and getting a haircut. They also showcased Nashville as the setting for the show. Domini called us very excited today when the show got an excellent review from Entertainment Weekly.
Competing for the business and filming the show brought out team closer together. It was an intense period. We had some people in the offices who normally work remotely and that added some spice to day-to-day life at Fletcher Rowley. We did that because Lauren Bissett patiently explained it was not very compelling television to be firing off emails and having conference calls.
Our staff and vendors and associates including Kati Bumgardner, Robin Kirk, Jason Russell, Anne Cates, Alex Morgan, Nick Bumgardner and graphics whiz Garrett Rittenberry, were nervous in the days leading up to the airing of the show because none of us had seen the final product until it aired on Thursday night. Their nerves were for naught, however, and nobody has to clean out their desk tonight.
We competed hard, made a great pitch and, ultimately, we won. We also met some interesting people and, we hope, made some lifelong friends. We were able to showcase our team and our company on a national stage. We were also able to tell our own story, that of a company known for doing political campaigns but with longstanding experience in the corporate, nonprofit and strategic communications world. We’re hoping to land a few more clients out of the experience.