The whole creative process is stupid. It's like washing a pig. It's messy, it has no rules, no clear beginning, middle, or end; it's kind of a pain in the ass, and when you're done, you're not sure if the pig is clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place.
That goes double for pitching, which Marc Brownstein recently laid into at Small Agency Diary:
I'm not advocating abstinence from dating. It's just that the courting process has gone too far. It's often a waste of an agencies' time to pitch among 12 other shops. Narrow it down, clients! Apply some discipline to the process.
Pure's Gregg Bergan had a good column in The Denver Business Journal not too long ago. He opined that a trip through an agency's portfolio and a long lunch was a better predictor of relationship success than a creative shootout:
Schedule a time to visit each agency. Ask to meet with your entire prospective team and no others. Don't agree to a meeting until all of them can make it. Ask to see a portfolio that represents the work of the actual people who would be on your account. If the agency portfolio includes work of others, you don't want to see it.
OK. But the pitch process survives not only because clients like seeing a bunch of work for free. Creative departments, despite the strain, often love a shootout. It's competitive. Energetic. And win or lose, it gives writers and art directors a whole lot of chances to produce stuff for their books.
When we created the idea for The Denver 50, we all agreed that past award shows thrived on snappy headlines and big egos. And we wanted the New Denver Ad Club's first show to let go of those things and embrace the thinking of agencies like Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Anomaly and StrawberryFrog.
Letting go of the pitch process would take the same sort of willpower.