The 10 Pitches from Hell 2004

1. Samsung - A nine-month story of obfuscation, frustration and delay. First, there were weeks of waiting while presentation reports were relayed back to agency managers around the world. Then Eric Kim, the global marketing chief, resigned, raising fears that a decision would be delayed until January.

WPP emerged the victor but doubts remain about whether the account will ever be a significant revenue earner. And WPP didn't even win the whole account. It has yet to emerge where another $400 million of business will end up.

2. Direct Line - One of those truly nerve-jangling pitches with a £40 million budget at stake. M&C Saatchi, an RBS roster agency, was added to the shortlist late into the game, while O&M was given a second chance to pitch having been eliminated in the early stages. For CHI, the eventual winner in November, it is income well earned.

3. Harrods - It has been resolved? Hasn't it? Do we even care any more, it's been so long. First called in March, it took the Harrods lot five months to appoint what could be argued was the natural shop for them in the first place - the groomed team at M&C Saatchi.

4. Pizza Hut - Now here's a client that can't make up its mind. Just last year, the incumbent, PHD, had to defend itself against ZenithOptimedia and then this year it was again called to pitch, this time against Starcom Motive and MindShare. Understandably, a thoroughly fed-up PHD pulled out as the review kicked off.

5. The Jamaican Tourist Board - Starting last year, this dragged through into 2004. The actual pitch, which took place in the Caribbean, turned out to be far from glamorous. Presentations were to 30 stereotypically relaxed Jamaicans, one of whom slept through the entire proceedings and others who took calls on their mobiles or wandered in and out of the room. A variety of issues led to the reappointment of the incumbent in the end.

6. Martell - This three-month review was held by a clutch of Europeans with completely unpronounceable surnames. Agencies complained that the various global divisions made it incredibly tricky to see who was making the final or, in fact, any decision. Oh, and they reappointed the incumbent.

7. Sainsbury Bank - The six agencies involved were subjected to an embarrassing how-well-does-your-deodorant-work test, as the pitch saw teams crammed into a eight-by-ten-foot meeting room. And, with Sainsbury's tie-up with esure, it was all to win the chance to work with Michael Winner.

8. Meat & Livestock Commission - Having spent an enormous £100,000 above the line in 2003 (according to Nielsen Media Research), a pitch led to the appointment of not one, not two but five creative agencies to its business. Incredibly, the same is happening in media, with a plan to instate at least three agencies.

9. Muller - As well as clearly not trusting the agencies involved (to the extent that Muller ordered that their bags be taped up in the HHCL/Red Cell reception), Muller also subjected the agencies to an all-agency briefing and factory tour where the likes of Trevor Beattie, Nick Hurrell and Amanda Walsh were gathered together in stylish hairnets and shown the art of yoghurt-making.

10. 3 - The boys and girls at 3 are obviously above the usual pitch process and, after calling a whirlwind ten-dayer last year, in May they promptly changed their minds and, without warning, shifted £55 million-worth of business into WCRS. The fact that 3 proceeded to appoint WCRS's new-business director, Julian Hough, as its marketing head suggests that this is now its final word.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.


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