Did you catch the news, or watch the preview about the new AMC Original TV Series, The Pitch? No, this isn’t a baseball series. Boiled down to its essence, each week, the show is about two ad agencies competing for an Account with a National Advertiser. Due to debut on April 30th, the 1st Episode is available for previews for a limited time right now, on amctv.com.
The world of advertising has long been a staple commodity for the entertainment industry. Name a big star from the last 80 years, and there’s a good chance that they’ve been in at least one film about the goings on in ad agencies or about advertising executives:
Steve Martin – Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Tony Randall & Jayne Mansfield – Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957)
Albert Brooks – Lost in America (1985)
Rock Hudson and Doris Day – Lover Come Back (1961)
Cary Grant – Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
Robert Downey Sr (Director) – Putney Swope (169)
Mel Gibson – What Women Want (2000)
Kirk Douglas – The Arrangement (1969)
Tom Hanks – Nothing in Common (1986)
Rosalind Russell & Fred McMurray – Take A Letter Darling (1942)
Bette Davis – Ex-Lady (1933)
Dudley Moore – Crazy People (1990)
Eddie Murphy – Boomerang (1992)
These days, in television, you need go no further than Mad Men – a dramatic series Set in 1960s New York. The sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama, Mad Men, follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell. By the way that series is also made by AMC, and the description of the show is how AMC itself describes the series. But I digress.
Not content to just rest on their laurels from their ultra successful series Mad Men, AMC is trotting out The Pitch which isn’t fiction. It is real life, as in reality television or documentary. None of the people are actors – instead they’re real life ad agency people as well as real life people working on the client side. So you won’t see any big names from Hollywood unless a well-known actor is brought in for a voice-over. But that’s down the road.
In the preview episode, Subway, the world’s largest fast food chain, yes, they’re bigger than McDonalds, invites reps from two agencies up to their corporate headquarters in Milford, Connecticut for the brief. That’s when the client tells the agencies what they want – in this case – a new, hard-hitting, commercial campaign to take Subway’s entrance into the breakfast market to the next level. Two sets of agency teams sit facing each other with the client set up in the middle – your basic U-shaped arrangement of tables and chairs.
The agencies – McKinney, based in Durham, North Carolina, and WDCW, a L.A./Seattle-based firm, take the brief meeting, then fly back to their own offices. They’ve got just a week to put together an ad campaign that will knock the socks off the client – and win the account. While you may not know these agencies, they’re very successful.
WDCW lists among their clients: Alaskan Airlines, ESPN, Hitachi, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and VIZIO. McKinney has on its client rolls such firms as Sherwin-Williams, Lenovo, Ruby Tuesday, Gold’s Gym, Nationwide Insurance, and GNC.
Okay, now the competition starts. While this is not quite like ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’ - it is both a race and it is warfare of a sort. One agency will win the account, and the other will not. As Tracy Wong of WDCW says, ‘… this will be a brutal competition’.