Monday, July 15, 2013

A Bitch of a Pitch

Several months ago, I had a lower wisdom tooth removed. The oral surgeon removing the dead tooth also suggested taking the upper. I agreed. But perhaps due to the Vicodin, he misunderstood my intentions and left the tooth in.

Now, because of the misalignment, food has an unfortunate tendency to get stuck back there. And I am left to ply the errant remains with a pointy, rubber-tipped golden tool that I carry with me at all times.

In many ways the whole mess reminds me of pitching new business. There's pain. There's a tortuous process. And when it's over, a little bit sticks with you like a piece of roast beef wedged between the molars.

Years ago, at an unnamed agency, I found myself leading up the pitch for the Red Roof Inn. It was during a very contentious period of my career when I felt I could do no wrong. Of course I've matured a bit and come to realize that is no longer true.

(These days I'm actually more surprised when I'm right.)

However, in the case of Red Roof Inn, my initial instincts were correct. We had no business going after this business. The truth is, most folks would rather go through an un-anesthetized bout of dental surgery than spend a night at a Red Roof Inn.

We didn't win the account but like all agency people who lose pitches, we feasted on schadenfreude when the winning agency unveiled the "new" campaign. Perhaps you remember Red, the anthropomorphic spokesperson for Red Roof Inn...

Red was not the rousing success the folks at Red Roof Inn had hoped for.

In fact, this 80kb picture of Red is the only one that exists on the entire Internet. Obscurity is hardly the hallmark of a successful advertising campaign. (Though this hardly stops many digital agencies pitching their Vines, Instagrams and other nonsense no one will ever see or remember, but I'll save that for another post.)

Like my interest in the fate of Red Roof Inn, Red did not last long.

The client hop-scotched between several other agencies. Always failing to find the winning formula. In fact, I thought the roof had caved in on this Motel 6 wannabe. Until last week when I saw they had come up with a brand new promotional scheme that has caught the eye of the national media.

If being ruthlessly skewered like that is not the kiss of death for a brand, I don't know what is.

I feel like I just enjoyed a second helping of schadenfreude for dessert. If some of it gets stuck in between my teeth, I'll just savor the flavor.

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