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The Importance of Proactive Pitching and Tapping into Pop Culture



INFLUENCER: Y&R's Gracie Page offers tips on getting a proactive pitch to a non-client accepted and made

The Importance of Proactive Pitching and Tapping into Pop Culture

Been excited by something in pop culture lately but not had a brand on-roster to make use of your left-field, distinctly off-brief thinking?

We’ve all been there: heck, it just happened to me and my peers at Y&R London when we realised, mid-World Cup, that 'Three Lions' was exactly four minutes long, which also happened to be the freshly-recommended maximum shower time Britons should try for in order to conserve water in this 'Great British Heatwave' (known everywhere else on the planet simply as 'summer'). The truth is, there are some pretty big obstacles to getting pro-active creative messages out the door, especially for non-clients, and most of them are of our own psychological doing: fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, and creative perfectionism are all the enemy if you’re after a quick burst of PR for your agency and your book. Oh and don’t forget bureaucracy. There’s nothing quite like convoluted process to kill a fragile little idea-seedling. So what’s a gal to do?

Firstly, embrace failure. You’ll ideate way more than you’ll publish, and that’s fine. Does hearing 'no' (or worse, nothing) suck? Of course, but it only takes one 'yes' to get your agency column inches, and forge a potentially new commercial relationship. Aside from a few hours, you’ve nothing to lose. Keeping the team tiny (maximum three) will help avoid death by committee, and only dealing with the top (your CCO and CEO) keeps risk-averse naysayers out of the loop until they’re ready to praise the recent PR spike you brought to the agency door. And remember it’ll be just that: a little spike, a welcome bump of press and creative love. You probably won’t change the face of brand-consumer interaction forever, and that’s okay. We’re talking small, repeatable wins that’ll help show your current clients how nimble you can be, and help change the oft-accepted wisdom that agencies are cumbersome and slow. 

The key to such activities is combining the zeitgeist with a cultural (often time-sensitive) insight, high levels of enthusiasm (read: coffee), and a tiny excitable team. Being on top of pop culture is crucial to spotting opportunities, and luckily creative types reign supreme at this. Taking a 30,000-foot view will then translate your wry, knowing smile into something actionable. This dot-connector is usually either the original creative or the second person in the team, serving to create a link between the cool creative nugget and a cultural insight that synergistically supercharges them when combined. For us, that was famous songs exactly four minutes in length, with the newly-announced recommended shower length of the same duration.

The final piece to this puzzle falls naturally off that combination: identifying brands that have something to say in that space. We identified water utility companies and water charities as potentials. Then it’s time to put your network to task, casting the net wide. Ask the agency with an all-staffer who has connections to someone in your identified target space, and don’t forget friends and family too. Brands with a head of engagement, head of social, or equivalent have a higher chance of picking up what you’re putting down, so get on LinkedIn or write some notes with those scrounged emails and write a short, sweet teaser. 

At this point it’s worth remembering how you feel when someone promises you something cool completely unsolicited, but then asks you for your time or money to get it. Total turn-off. So be prepared to do everything for the brand you approach, effectively gifting them not only the idea but also the execution. Set up, provision of assets, any connections needed, and even the press release should all be provided or supported by you, to make your faux-client’s life easier and get to release faster. Oh and don’t forget to invite them for coffee when it’s all over - it might just be the start of something beautiful.

Gracie Page is creative technologist at Y&R London

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VMLY&R London, Thu, 26 Jul 2018 11:02:35 GMT