Every new business pitch is its own drama. Some are tense and nerve racking. Others are lighthearted and cordial. But no two are ever the same. It all depends on the brand and the personalities of the organizations. Win or lose, each has a special place in our hearts, but some carve out a huge chunk of real estate.
About 10 years ago, we were pitching a product launch campaign for a very large, well-known consumer brand. The project was so large and had such a short turnaround time that we decided many hands make light work and partnered with another local agency. A massive amount of work went into the pitch: consumer research, earth-moving creative and brilliant strategic planning. We poured our passion, blood, sweat and tears into this and couldn’t wait for pitch day.
On pitch day our team poured into the waiting room of Company X and sat there like nervous students waiting to see the principal. We sat in a row, staring across the room at a mirrored line-up of another local agency that certainly worked as hard as we did to be there. The silent awkwardness was surely not the type of energy we hoped to start the morning with.
After an eternity of fidgeting, toe tapping and watch checking we were finally in the room setting up our tried and true pitch gear. As everyone exchanged handshakes and business cards, we could feel our confidence gaining steam. We were ready. We were ultra-creative professionals! True marketing titans! Then, we hit the lights.
POOF! Blackness surrounded us all. Momentum and confidence quickly and quietly snuck out under the door. We were sitting in silence in the dark and didn’t know why. Turns out the switch wasn’t for the lights — it was for all the power in the conference room. The face of the offending switch flipper turned white. He may have fainted. Panic mode set in. A few nervous laughs. Hey, we flipped the wrong switch! No biggie! A quick flip of the same switch and we were back in the game…or so we thought.
The sudden power loss fried our hard drive. Dead. It was now a boat anchor. I felt like I needed to puke. To hide. To run away. We held it together, though. We scrambled, transferred files off backup discs and eventually got another computer up and running. We hit the real light switch and it was game on.
We landed the gig, created beautiful work and learned a valuable lesson in the process — always bring backup files and another computer with the files ready to go. And also — never, ever, ever flip a switch without knowing what it does!