McKinney v. WDCW, Tonight on AMC

Fuck “Mad Men.” I want to watch “The Pitch,” and that’s precisely what I’ll be doing this evening at 8:00 PST.

Each episode of this new reality show on AMC matches two agencies against one another as they pitch a client project. Tonight’s sneak peak (the show starts in earnest on April 30) pits McKinney against Wong Doody Crandall Wiener.

You may have heard that many top dogs in the ad biz didn’t bark when this bone was offered. Jim Edwards at BusinessInsider lists the shops that turned the show down and concludes that they’re cowards.

Tracy Wong agrees.

I’m convinced that the real reason agencies turned down “The Pitch” is that they feel they have something to hide. The cameras would show the world, and their clients, who they really are.

I ask, are you working, or have you ever worked, at an ad agency with the following issues:

Employees who hate management?

Bosses who steal ideas from their underlings and take the credit?

A completely dysfunctional organization? …

So, why did our agency say “yes”? Quite simply, we were not afraid to be naked in front of the cameras.

Rock on Tracy Wong. I will be watching tonight as you clean McKinney’s clock.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I was rather impressed by the show last night. Win or lose, both agencies came out pretty solid throughout the show. I think there were some scenes that might be a bit shocking to non-agency folk (especially some of the ideas that come out of brainstorming, and their resulting presentation to senior staff), but you’ve got to have thick skin to play in this industry.

    I think McKinney’s pitch won out on one point, that it hit the target but had also had an opportunity to catch on with a bit of viral buzz by using a YouTube “star.” Which in turn might have made it more popular of an idea to Subway brass simply because it gives them an opportunity to hit the target, but also pull in eyeballs from other demographics. I’m hesitant to crown this a winning idea from an agency perspective though simply because it is often to easy to jump on the back of a social/viral “thing” and turn it in to an ad campaign. It worked in this case, but the failures are a dime a dozen.

    WDCW was an original take on the currently popular meme of zombies. But I think that may have been lost on the target demo. It did hit at the fringes of the target with those who are employed in a regular work week – the 9-5ers, but I think it could have been lost on the rest of the target. The gamers/skaters/late-nighters are often hitting breakfast before bedtime, skipping the morning and seeing lunch as their breakfast. I thought the creative may missed in that regard – unless Subway is planning to open at 3am and catch that crowd.

    But I can’t really fault either agency. Goods and bads, they both had the guts to put themselves out there in front of a camera. I can’t say that I would be able to do the same.

    • I also enjoyed the show. And I find it interesting how many ad people do NOT share that opinion. 

      Speaking of the non-flattering scenes, I grimaced every time McKinney’s Cude spoke.

      “Is that all you got?” 

      “Absolutely not!” 

      And so on. What a positive force this guy is (I don’t know him, so I’d like to believe he’s a good guy off camera, just like I want to believe that the pricks I’ve worked with over the years are also good guys to their friends and family). 

      As for the work presented, I’m a bit taken aback that a so-called “idea” can be found on YouTube. Maybe that’s how it’s done today, but it’s not how I do it. Since when do we start with the execution and work backwards? 

      I hear your take on the zAMbies ideas, but at least there was some substance there. McKinney put all their marbles on some due they found on YouTube. He even wrote the spot and his live delivery at the meeting likely helped sell the work in. Score one for the crowd, I guess.

      • I went to school with Jonathan Cude back at the Creative Circus, and I haven’t been in contact with him since then so it was interesting to see him as The Boss. (He was good guy, and funny back then). 

        Nonetheless, this show came off as what it was–heavily edited, bad reality TV. It was interesting to see last night, as the show wrapped up, many of the WDCW folks and their official FB and Twitter feeds getting the word out that there was indeed more to their pitch than was shown. I guess I wouldn’t full-on judge the people (or agencies) involved by what ended up on the show. (Might be a good lesson to apply to all reality shows).I’ll continue to watch, but as I’ve said before, the advertising agency business, and the creative process, is much more mundane in real life. It just doesn’t make a great TV show if you’re not really into advertising.

  2. The Bitch says:

    Wong Doody was robbed.