Interestingly, TV Reviewers Aren’t Buying “The Pitch”

I’ve said it before: The creative process at advertising agencies simply isn’t very interesting. So the heavily edited AMC show “The Pitch” doesn’t really make for compelling television. I have watched both episodes mostly because I know a bit about the agencies and the participants.

TV critics and commenters seem to really dislike the show. Here’s Hilary Busus’ take in Entertainment Weekly:

The show’s featured players work hard to win us over by claiming to be risk takers who prize creativity above all else: “We understand what it means to put everything on the line for something you believe in,” says one McKinney exec. It’s an admirable sentiment — but it’s tough to take him seriously when you know that what the company “believes in,” in this case, is freakin’ breakfast sandwiches. His words have even less resonance after we see which campaign Subway ultimately selects: A played-out rap about sandwiches that the agency’s copy team didn’t even write themselves.

And here’s a real scathing review from Hank Steuver in The Washington Post:

Though “The Pitch” tries to capi­tal­ize on this notion of the insanely smart copywriter and the mutual triumphs of the creative class, the show also too easily locates the pompous jerk in everyone it meets, even the people we’re ostensibly supposed to like. As a bit of positive PR for the advertising profession, “The Pitch” has a way of making the ad world seem like a real downer — a repugnant exercise in egotism laced with depressing bouts of creative compromise.

The show has, to me, driven home how manipulated reality TV really is. So are you watching? Would there be a better format to make the ad business look more interesting?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I understand that the producers are going for the most telling scenes, and sadly all they need to do to capture them is mic the staff, light the room and roll film. Because some ad people really are that out of touch, that insecure, that overworked and that isolated from other people and reality. 

    I like the show precisely because it succeeds in shining a bright light down into this dark abyss that is Adlandia’s massive ego problem. If you go back and look at the staff’s faces at SK+G, you can see how unhappy they are, and while it’s hard to watch, it’s also great footage. When you work in a toxic cesspool of cluelessness, you have to recognize it, and choose to save yourself. 

  2. AMCrap says:

    Pssst. TV viewers aren’t buying “The Pitch” either.

  3. Wrote about this a week ago:

  4. R. E. D. says:

    I find it mind-boggling that any shop would agree to participate in this. I was a producer at one of these agencies, and I’m so glad I retired when I did. I’d never agree to be a part of this mess. Never.  

    • Like Tracy Wong said, they have nothing to hide. So they had few worries about being exposed. 

      My guess is SK+G doesn’t know itself well enough to realize that their innards are polluted. 

  5. This article in the Las Vegas Sun supports Dan’s argument above (that the conflict isn’t real). I’m willing to entertain this possibility, and everyone in this business knows (everyone who makes TV and radio) the editing booth is where spots or shows are made. But you work with the footage you have, and the producers clearly have the grim footage we saw edited into a “reality TV” program. 

    • And, once again, in the interest of full disclosure, I freelanced at SK+G for a few days back in 2004. The agency smaller then but still ambitious. I distinctly remember Jerry Kramer being a nice guy, funny, and very personable to me even though I was a visiting freelancer.