The VIA Agency: Why The Long-Shot Pitches Are Worth It — Even When You Don’t Win

Recently our agency was invited to pitch the MINI Cooper USA account, one of the most exciting brands in the business.

When the review was announced, the press mainly covered the fact that the incumbent was defending the account, and that the client was quoted as saying that the review was being forced by their corporate procurement procedures and they were happy with their current agency.

This led many in the industry to say that any agency considering pitching it would be wasting their time. We decided to pitch the business and it wasn’t the first time – and won’t be the last – that many thought us foolish for doing so.

And I’ll get to the conclusion – we didn’t win it. We came in a heartbreaking second (but to our American sensibilities: the first loser)

So why tilt at these windmills? Many people complain that the advertising business is ridiculous because you have to do an enormous amount of free work to pitch a new client and if you don’t prevail, you get nothing.

These pitches can be extraordinarily expensive, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, but that’s the price of choosing to play in the highly saturated advertising world. It’s pure free market dynamics. We have the privilege of being in advertising, the most fun you can have with your business clothes on, but this low barrier to entry industry spawns fierce overcrowding.

If you don’t like it, find a different business. But still that’s not a rationale for taking on an initiative against daunting odds. In the best case, an agency review that doesn’t have a liked incumbent can start out with fifty agencies, crappy odds by any standard.

So the question is, how do you decide to take on huge challenges regardless of the industry you’re in? Here are a few things that we think about before taking on the impossible:


Image: Flickr user jiazi

Posted on | By The VIA Agency | Posted in Featured