Review: The Pitch Episode 2 – Waste Management

SK+G Go Head-To-Head with The Ad Store

WM Truck
Image courtesy of srqpix

NOTE: This article was written after AMC's The Pitch - Waste Management aired on April 30th, 2012. 

The second installment of AMC's The Pitch took a different spin than the first. And again, before I dive too deeply, note that this article contains SPOILERS. If you haven't seen it yet, look away now! You can always come back later and read it later after viewing the episode.

So, this week the client was Waste Management, and the two agencies involved were The Ad Store, and SK+G.

From the start, this felt very different than the first episode. Being reality TV, you can't trust what you see; only what you believe. And I believe that some clever editing created a much larger story of conflict and desperation than was actually true. I'll never know, but unless you work for either of the two agencies, or the production company, you won't either.

The Pitch Creative Brief from Waste Management

The two agencies met in the boardroom, another high noon face-off with awkward silences and furrowed brows. When the Waste Management team showed up, they gave the two agencies the brief, which was way too brief for my liking.

To be honest, it was difficult, as an advertising creative, to understand what WM actually wanted. Was this an overarching brand campaign? A facelift? A campaign about recycling, or the usefulness of garbage? It was hard to tell. But as usual, the teams went away with the typical mix of trepidation and enthusiasm, and the clock starting ticking.


The Creative Process - The Ad Store vs. SK+G

The two agencies could not be more different. The Ad Store, helmed by veteran ad guru Paul Cappelli, was very much was very much a one-man show. Cappelli is an industry legend to some extent, having lived the business for decades. His previous work on major brands like JetBlue, Alitalia Airlines, Coca-Cola, L'Oreal, General Electric, Gillette and Pepsi clearly made him a player, despite the hard times his small shop had fallen on.

And from the start, The Ad Store knew exactly where they wanted to go, and how to get there.

The idea of "trash can" was simple, memorable and full of life. It was easy to see where it could go, and how to get it there. And then, there was the revelation that Paul Cappelli is gay, and partners with his art director Steven. It was just another fact that endeared the audience to The Ad Store.

SK+G, on the other hand, were a complete mess. With two creative leads, two huge egos battling each other, and no real direction, they were stumbling around in the dark (quite literally, given their sweatshop hours and lack of sympathy for any parents working at the agency). And their killer line was nothing special at all - Turn Waste Into WOW. Boring.

It had neither the playfulness nor the elegance of Cappelli's "trash can" and it showed. But what SK+G lacked in creativity, they more than made up for with flash graphics and showy designs. They had it all. And that worried me, because clients rarely see the big picture…they love to be dazzled, despite the lack of substance.

The Pitch to Waste Management

Cappelli's Ad Store pitched first (at least, in the show they did). It was very understated, no bells and whistles, with Cappelli actually reading the VO himself.

The Waste Management team clearly liked what he had done, and also liked Cappelli. It looked very promising, but I could see a big issue. In the creative brief, WM asked for a lot of viral/new media solutions, and there weren't many in the presentation.

When SK+G pitched, it was just as bad as the creative process we'd witnessed earlier. The two lead creatives kept talking over each other. Or, to be precise, the very annoying man with glasses and an ego the size of Jupiter, Mr. Ray Johnson, kept stepping over Doug Hentges. Johnson clearly has no idea how good presentations work, because he undermined the main presenter and could have completely sabotaged the pitch. However, the work, and the viral nature of the campaign, won over the WM crowd.


The End Result - SK+G Gets The Account

Another episode, another disappointment.

It's clear that everyone who knows anything about advertising knows that the smarter campaign came from The Ad Store. But it lacked jazz. It needed the slick visuals and additional va-voom that SK+G brought to their weaker ideas. No surprise then that SK+G won. Clients do love the razzamatazz, however flimsy the idea is behind it.

Next week, The Hive and FKM battle for Clockwork Homes Services.