In a bit of a nice surprise, we had our first true villain on last night’s episode of AMC’s The Pitch since episode two’s Machiavellian creative director, Ray Johnson. I’m not exactly sure who deserves more praise for this: The Pitch‘s producers or the rude, impossible-to-please client, Chris Burch. Unless my eyes deceive me, I’d have to go with the latter, because that kind of perpetual condescension can’t be derived through clever editing.
Throughout the episode, Burch insults both agencies to the point that winning his clothing brand, C. Wonder, didn’t seem like much of a “win” at all. Burch, a serial entrepreneur best-known for starting women’s fashion label Tory Burch with his now ex-wife, has been facing some flack from the fashion community as of late. Since divorcing his wife, Burch stayed on as co-chair of Tory Burch, stepping down in March amid accusations that his new brand (and subject of this episode), C. Wonder, was a little too similar to his wife’s, leading to consumer confusion. So, did either agency have a clever enough campaign to make C. Wonder stand out? (As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!)
At C. Wonder HQ, we meet our two competing agencies, who for the first time both hail from New York. There’s DIGO (clients include Crunch Fitness, Comcast and eBay) led by CEO/CCO Mark DiMassimo and president Lee Goldstein. On the other side, there’s Womenk!nd, an all-female agency who have done work for TD Ameritrade and Post Great Grains cereal. We actually met the ladies of Womenk!nd in episode 5 when The Ad Store’s Paul Cappelli visited the agency to help critique his agency’s tagline for Frangelico. Apparently, it was this chance meeting that won the agency a spot on the show.
Burch immediately starts criticizing the Womenk!nd team at the briefing, visibly upset that no creatives came to the meeting as they were all busy on a shoot in New Zealand. Forced to defend her agency, COO Vicki Brakl has to convince Burch that, yes, they take their business seriously and hope to win the pitch. The brief itself is pretty open-ended: Create an “innovative, thoughtful, focused” campaign that will break through to a female consumer in her late 30s who is likely the head of household and has children.
Directly after the briefing, DiMassimo feels that his team at DIGO needs to sell the target consumer the idea of “wonder.” Back at the agency, DiMassimo begins telling his idea to his employees, much to the chagrin of director of strategy Ruth Ayers. Ayers isn’t exactly tactful in her criticism of DiMassimo’s presentation to her agency, but she’s dead-on in saying that she’s confused as to what the brief actually is. “Are we solving a problem?” she asks her boss. DiMassimo seems to stumble for a reasonable explanation.
After a creative brainstorming session that toys with the idea of adding an Alice in Wonderland theme to the campaign, Ayers again speaks up and suggests the line “A great mood can change the world.” The tagline puts its emphasis mainly on the consumer experience within the retail stores, which DiMassimo digs, saying “I love it when an unexpected person comes through.” This doesn’t quite jive with his earlier commentary on Ayers, which was, “Sometimes she just infuriates me in her lack of interest of being subtle.”
Around this time, Burch appears in what’s shown to be a surprise visit to the agency. After playing a round of ping-pong with DiMassimo and bro-ing out a bit, he sits down with the agency to hear Ayers’ strategy. When Ayers suggests that their target consumer sees herself as an influencer of the world around her, Burch accuses her of projecting her own opinions on consumers. Ayers says in a confessional, “Had I let emotions take over, I would have jumped across the table and clocked him.” Undeterred, the agency presses on with their chosen tagline.
Meanwhile, the Womenk!nd crew is struggling with figuring out any sort of tagline. They’re not short on tech-savvy tactics, which include a virtual fashion show. Their main problem lacks putting their ideas together in a cohesive campaign. After the agency goes on emergency cleaning detail upon hearing that Burch is making a surprise visit to the agency, they show the client what they have so far for brainstorming. Despite accusing the women of not putting enough of their own words into those from his brief, he commends the ladies on a job well done.
At the pitch, Burch continues complimenting Womenk!nd’s Frankenstein-d campaign, “Elements of Surprise.” Presenting each of their campaign tactics on boards covered by C. Wonder’s trademark green retail store doors, the ladies run through each digital element of the campaign, which have names like “The Lure,” “The Matrix,” and a customer rewards program called “BFF.” Burch applauds, says, “I love this,” and mentions that DIGO will have to do an awful lot to top the work of Womenk!nd.
Just as DIGO unveils “A great mood can change the world,” Burch interjects by saying “I don’t like ‘mood’ at all. Our girl is already in a great freaking mood.” Despite not liking the word choice, Burch allows DIGO to continue their presentation, which includes a short, cute digital video a a storyboard for a TV spot featuring a target consumer stumbling upon C. Wonder’s green doors in her laundry room. Burch admits that “this is great,” and for maybe the first time in the episode, Lee Goldstein speaks up and says in a life-saving tone, “We’re here to demonstrate how we think. Not to sell one campaign.”
And now, your verdict:
Yes, the decision makes sense. While Womenk!nd displayed their tactical and digital prowess, they lacked to connect their ideas back to a cohesive campaign. Burch rightly says of DIGO’s winning work, “In the end, they gave us one message, and it was easier for us to decipher.” In a sense, this was Womenk!nd’s pitch to lose, and they did so, as Burch said, by doing “too much work.” He might be one of the smart clients to work for, if he weren’t such a jackass. While DIGO is invited back into C. Wonder to celebrate with the corporate team, the women of Womenk!nd are left in tears.
- Womenk!nd has a nice two-part FAQ about participating on the show on their website. Read it here.
- Meanwhile, DIGO is responding to widespread negative commentary about the show on their own website. Read their comment about “re-branding the pitch process” here.
- What price would you need to work for Chris Burch’s company?
- Read NY Mag‘s story on the Tory Burch/C. Wonder battle here. Tory Burch claims that C. Wonder is selling basically the same product at a third of the price point. My female friends with a more discerning eye for fashion more than agree.
What do you think, dear commenters? As always, leave your comments below.