Friday, September 16, 2011

Controlled Chaos

Around midnight

I often wonder if this is just how advertising works or if there is a special brand of controlled chaos here at Mutt.  Take a new business pitch as example; I’ll try to describe what I witness.  Now, I’m a bit of a spectator to the process since I deal in money & operations here but I think this gives me a unique perspective and a 40,000-foot view if you will.

Initially, when we learn of a new lead there is generally an air of skepticism, either having to do with how real the prospect seems to be or our odds of landing the business.  There is always a warm up period, it’s kind of like needing to psyche each other up to go for it.  Questions, doubts, reinforcements etc.  But once we get there, watch out.

This is where the controlled chaos starts; it’s all hands on deck.  Research goes crazy, finding all kinds of interesting (and sometimes not so interesting) information on the category, the business, the players, the target – everything.  Here’s my first moment of wonder in the process.  So many questions start flying around; good questions, thought provoking questions, silly questions, stupid questions.  It becomes fun and everyone’s opinion is listened to.  The entire agency participates, including myself.  It’s pretty amazing that out of the opinions of 20 people comes that 1 nugget, the truth of what we believe will set this client up for success if they’re only smart enough to listen to us.  And what’s interesting is that there is a mind shift here, the prospect hasn’t chosen us, but we begin considering them our client.  You have to when you’re that deep & committed.

And now the hard part. The late nights start, the tense situations arise, tempers get a little edgy, empty wine & liquor bottles are all over the kitchen in the morning.  We have to take our truth and make it come to life and come to life in inspiring ways.  Make the client see why this is going to work and how it’s going to work.  So many options and creative ideas are generated. The conference room is littered with ideas on the wall, ideas in a pile on the floor. The distillation down to 2 -3 pathways is hard and again, I wonder at the collaboration & intelligence that gets us there.

And it always comes down to the wire; the team is here late into the night & up until the night before the pitch.  This isn’t laziness or true chaos; It’s passion.  There is so much passion to do this right, every detail is thought about.  How do we knock their socks off?  The presentation deck is done & re-done & re-done.  The ideas are refined & elaborated on.  There is always some doubt that we’ll finish in time and that we’ll have everything fleshed-out, but I’ve never seen us go in unprepared.  In the end, it comes together and is amazing.

This is my biggest take away – I work with passionate, crazy intelligent, fun-loving, hard working perfectionists.  It’s impossible to avoid controlled chaos when you’re dealing with Mutt.

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