Have you had an opportunity to watch 'The Pitch' on AMC? For those of you not in the know, it's yet another artificial reality TV show. In this case, though, the plot revolves around two real-world advertising agencies pitching a living, breathing client.
But, after that, all semblance of reality checks out faster than the average viewer of a Madison Avenue-produced commercial.
To begin with, the client, Subway, provides a simultaneous briefing to both agencies who are sharing the same conference room. That never happens. Not only are agencies kept apart from one another, it's sometimes harder than pulling teeth to get a prospect to even tell you who your competition is.
After the Subway briefing, we follow the two firms back to their respective headquarters as they sweat bullets to turn around campaign ideas in one week's time. Instead of displaying the strategy and depth of thinking one would expect from each ad agency we see, instead, a bunch of nonsensical, superficial ideas and tons of internecine backbiting.
The winning campaign is actually laughably bad in terms of originality, messaging and credibility. Critically, although each agency's assignment had been to help Subway reach the 18-to-24 year old breakfast buyer, we see no attempt by either firm to listen to any member of the age cohort. Instead, like all ad agencies do, the two competitors insulated themselves in conference room, batted around ideas and ended up creating three top down, inside out campaigns.
As one copywriter said of one approach, "We can't make this look like a commercial. If we do, the viewer will immediately change channels." Bingo! And, there you have the fundamental reason why advertising is in decline and PR is ascending. Advertising talks at people; PR engages in conversations with them.
The Pitch is just another variation on the now tired reality TV format. I predict it'll last a season, maybe two. But, if AMC wants to capture a real moment about where communications is headed, I suggest they fire the ad agencies and, instead, find some PR firms who are on the cutting edge of where the conversation is headed. Until then, I'm going to follow that copywriter's advice when I next spot The Pitch on TV; I'm going to channel surf. The show is just as artificial as the industry it portrays.