There’s A Huge Difference Between On Camera And Behind The Camera

AMC, which already has a major hit on its hands with Mad Men, is now pitching a new reality show that will pit real ad agencies against one another in a real life pitches. But agencies are not biting, according to Ad Age.

Doug Spong, president of Carmichael Lynch, said that they weighed the idea but “at the end of the day, we decided that the tremendous time commitment, lack of anything financially tangible at the end (even if we were to ‘win’ the assignment against the competing agency) and risk to our reputation as an agency simply outweighed any reward for participating. Personally, I was worried that the drama involved in reality programming today would alienate and offend some of our clients, turn off blue-chip prospects, and leave everyone with the question of ‘Why do we have so much time to play make-believe when there’s so much deserving client work to be created and produced.'”

Another concern: that clients wouldn’t appreciate company time being used to promote the shop over the brand.

I can understand why agencies don’t want to appear on camera, after all viewers might discover that there’s no such thing as a proprietary system for solving marketing problems. And that realization ultimately gives too much credit to the creative team.

I’m also wondering where the drama is in this idea. A bunch of ad grunts pulling all-nighters to prepare for a pitch isn’t exactly the kind of thing that makes for exciting television.

Interestingly, Ad Age notes that The Gruen Transfer, a show from Australia that delves into the psychology and science behind advertising has, somewhat shockingly, made for compelling television. The show is prepping to go into its fourth season in August.

About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.