The pitch process, from development to presentation, is taxing. But some agency executives and teams have specific practices or routines to help ease the stress and get into the right mental state before pitching a client. Below are 12 unique, fun and often superstitious pitch rituals.
Global chief marketing officer, Havas Worldwide
"I always wear the client colors—sometimes hidden, sometimes overt. I say the same mental prayer before every pitch—it's a secret. I've never revealed it in 15 years. Every pre-pitch morning, when possible, eggs, rye toast, well-done bacon and lots of hot sauce."
"The entire week before a pitch, I go into full-on pay-it-forward mode. Pay anonymously for tolls, Dunkin' Donuts, bagels or police/fireman breakfasts. Just try to get in a good karma place."
"I like to keep people loose before a final pitch. I don't believe in rehearsing or scripted baton-exchanging; clients can smell good or bad agency chemistry, period. Moments before the pitch meeting, when the team is individually focusing on their parts, I like to break up the tension with humorous humanity. I will create a contest—winner gets $20 cash—to insert a certain word into their part of the show. The word will be a bit obtuse, like 'onomatopoeia' or 'rhinoceros,' but the intent and focus is unabashedly to be human and real."
This team likes to show a movie clip to get people in the right mindset. One example is the scene from "Dead Poets Society" about understanding poetry. The point of showing that particular clip is that it's not about being perfect by the letter of the law; it's about being real, authentic and themselves.
Group executive creative director, managing director, Havas Worldwide New York
"I think it's unlucky to not pin the deck neatly. I have to have a pitch theme song. Most recently it was Steely Dan's 'Cuervo Gold.' I wear socks with a color from the company I'm pitching."
Director of business planning, Firstborn
"When we pitch, we believe in BYOD: Bring your own dongle. You can't control the pitch environment, but you can be excessively prepared by arming yourself with multiple printed presentation copies, backup laptops and accessories, presentation remotes, USB drives and even your own projector. We also coordinate outfits ahead of time, just to avoid showing up in the same plaid shirt, which actually happens most days at our office."
COHN & WOLFE
The agency's U.S. healthcare team has a mandatory pre-pitch dance with signature moves, including odd sayings and motions that come from being stuck together for days and nights during the pitch development stage. Each move represents a previous successful pitch and must be done in order and incorporate a new move at the end. The team is supposed to do it just prior to walking into the prospect's office, but the lobby also works in a pinch.
Partner, chief marketing officer, Deutsch
'"What can I say? I'm superstitious. I've used the same disgustingly dirty, oversized, falling-apart suitcase to carry our pitch materials for seven years. I have no idea how many cities, puddles and dirt patches that thing has been in. But it's been lucky. And you don't mess with luck."
Founder and CEO, Redscout
"I actually have a lucky cologne that was a present from our Chanel clients, but I only wear it when I really want to win, because it works."
VP-global brand development, MRY
"Sacrifice a lamb: We try to always bring someone who's never pitched before. It goes against a staple rule of new-biz consultants of 'Only bring the A-Team,' but there's something magical about watching a young creative or account person come into their own in the room, not jaded by how things 'should be done.' They are often the stars of the show."
Global CEO, Iris Worldwide
He wears to every pitch his lucky underpants, featuring Coventry City, the rather unsuccessful football team from his hometown in the U.K.
MARINA MAHER COMMUNICATIONS
The team picks a song to keep members energized and excited. Each song defines the pitch, timing and mood. MMC usually plays it before a long work session or rehearsal and the morning of a presentation. Recent pitch songs have included Coleman Hell's "2 Heads" and Miike Snow's "Genghis Khan."