I look forward to the verdicts of Wallace and his fellow judge, John Torode, with something approaching the wonderment of a child. If only all judgments were delivered with such enthusiasm. How great would it be, for instance, if clients adopted the Wallace spirit when providing agencies with feedback on pitches? A cheeky, knowing wink along with an aside such as "oooh! I'd happily bury my face in that TV plan" or "deep, deep insights" would add colour and sparkle to such occasions.
Sadly few clients, let alone pitch consultants, seem inclined to adopt such an approach. As discussed in this space last week, pitching for many of the multinational networks has become a long drawn-out affair played out for diminishing returns. However, I grudgingly accept that an air of serious professionalism is the only way to play these things when futures and careers are at stake. Take the current £80 million Lloyds Banking Group review, for instance.
The initial stages of the pitch process, involving four strong agencies from four of the major holding companies (Aegis' Vizeum, Omnicom's OMD, Publicis' ZenithOptimedia and WPP's Mediaedge:cia), sound gruelling for agencies involved but few are questioning the motives or soundness of the process. Pitching doesn't get tougher than this, as Wallace might say, but at least the agencies involved in the largest domestic contest of this year get to test their mettle in a straight fight against other local offices. Which is more than you can say of most global pitches.
The outcome could define the year for the agencies involved, illustrating that in the current tough climate new business can enhance an agency's culture and afford them the opportunity to build success on the back of momentum. Something Interpublic's Universal McCann would dearly have liked to have built on the back of its £10 million Dairy Crest win last week. But, as its loss of the Autoglass business just a few days later shows, this is no easy task.
Nick Theakstone, the Group M chief, who has just hired PHD's Lindsay Weedon as the UK chief executive of its agency Maxus, seems to recognise this, highlighting her "very potent force in new business" as a key reason for her appointment. Maxus' own fortunes in this area might need a kick-start but at least it's in safe hands with bosses who recognise that, while new business might be as frustrating as a collapsed souffle in the MasterChef kitchen, it remains the lifeblood of the industry.