In the enviable position of following Mad Men on Sunday, April 8, The Pitch arrived with a one-hour sneak preview in advance of its April 30 two-hour premiere.
Two hours of this advertising reality show may put the audience to sleep. It boasts “from the network that brought you Mad Men and the producers if Undercover Boss.” It’s certainly not from the writers of Mad Men, and it’s somewhat more drawn out than even Undercover Boss. Neither of those reality shows should be an hour long.
In The Pitch, we saw McKinney Advertising of Durham, North Carolina and WDCW (Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener) of Los Angeles vying for fast food giant Subway’s business, with specific focus on their breakfast offerings. The target demographic was ages 18 to 24. Both agencies geared up their younger copywriters, overseen by creative directors. There were two or three layers of variously titled creative directors.
The first meeting, the brief, with Subway executives brought both agencies into a conference room on opposite sides of a table. The agencies received Subway’s ideas of what they wanted and where they were going. WDCW fancies itself a quirky agency. McKinney has a background of Southern charm. Each is capable of going a little bit over the top for the young target audience.
We see the young copywriters throwing ideas around. (In one excruciating instance, a creative director says, “Me and Liz are usually in charge of…” A creative director?) They have to bring several ideas to the table, assuming most of the ideas will be shot down. And they are. Once they have narrowed the project down to a few ideas, we see both agencies in brainstorming sessions. They’re boring. This part of the show could have easily been trimmed. A few ideas, a few rejections, then coming to the winning projects and how they’ll be executed. We don’t need to see them walking down the hall. We don’t need all the extreme close-ups of the writers and the bosses. And later in the show, we don’t need to see them driving to Subway’s office.
The show is thrilled to follow Mad Men, but the producers should keep something in mind. How fast does Don Draper nix ideas? How brief are meetings with clients? Let’s even compare the crucial presentation. It just doesn’t take very long.
Let’s not forget that The Pitch follows one of the best dramas on TV. It has to keep the audience’s attention. It needs us on their side. They somehow have to make the writers, executives and clients a lot more interesting. The best part of the show is the actual presentation. One agency showed two ideas. During the first, they squirmed in their seats as they watched the expressionless faces on the executives. Fortunately, they liked the second idea.
Even though the April 30 premiere will feature different agencies, there will not be a spoiler here. AMC provides lots of opportunities to catch the preview.