Quirky retail and spa brand Bliss appeared on the last episode of AMC's "The Pitch" seeking an agency to create a print campaign for its new lip waxing product, Fuzz Off.
The brand boasts 21 spa centers around the world offering massages, facials and its products -- with playful names like "Fabulips" lip gloss and the "Lovehandler" slimming gel -- are sold in over 3,000 retail stores in 30 countries. Yet it's historically done most of its promotions inhouse and hasn't devoted much in the way of paid advertising. If you're watching the reailty show, though, you know that Bliss turned to Los Angeles-based agencies, Innerspin and MC Squared to compete for a print campaign assignment.
Bliss President Mike Indursky talked to us about why he decided to participate, just how "real" the show is, why print is still relevant and why an agency with a funny bone is appealing.
Ad Age: Why did you decide to participate in "The Pitch?"
Mike Indursky: We decided to participate for two reasons: The show was an opportunity for great brand and product exposure, and we were interested in finding someone to help tell our story. Previously, Bliss has only done advertising once; this is the second time only we have ever done a print ad (the first one was for Lean Machine, a contour machine). Typically we do a lot of digital and social promotion, tie-ins with our spa and other retail partnerships, but that is all done in-house. We felt Fuzz Off deserved a five-star treatment.
Ad Age: Any elements of the show that are not true to life?
Mr. Indursky: We typically wouldn't brief both agencies at once or tell the losing agency who won the account. During the briefing, Innerspin didn't ask questions and were quiet and stoic, letting MC Squared ask all the questions. When I visited the agency later, they said they did that intentionally. They didn't want to show their cards. Normally, that wouldn't be the case, and they would have brought a bigger team with them. But really, once you start filming, you forget the cameras are even on and everything becomes natural.
Ad Age: What was your biggest fear in signing on to do the show?
Mr. Indursky: I was worried the process would be really contrived and not natural, but AMC did an excellent job staying as close to truth as possible in the confines of the show. It really was organic and as true to life as it could be. They didn't try to coach us. In fact, at the end I thought they would guide me on how to break the news to the agencies, but they just said do it however you want. I was prepared that at the end of it, if I didn't like either agency's pitch, I wasn't going to pick one, and AMC said no problem.
Ad Age: How much did having a sense of humor matter to you with the agencies?
Mr. Indursky: Very much. I couldn't imagine working with an agency that didn't have a sense of humor especially as it's such an important factor in the brand and in creativity. I was concerned that Innerspin might have been humorless when I first met them, but when I visited them at their office (not shown in the episode), it was a wonderfully spirited, very funny and smart group.
Ad Age: And was it important for you to see that the agencies got Bliss' quirkiness and culture?
Mr. Indursky: Absolutely. Sometimes, an agency thinks they understand you and [they] don't. There's humor and then there's Bliss humor, and they may be two different things. Ours is more of a provocative, clever irreverence. They needed to understand that.
Ad Age: Why, in the digital era, did you ask the agencies for a print ad?
Mr. Indursky: We chose print because it was realistic budget wise, but it is also a great way to show how well an agency articulates their message. To tell a story clearly on one page is hard. In my mind you only have one chance to get the consumer. A video is great, but a print ad you need to get straight to your story.
Ad Age: How much do loyalty marketing and catalogs matter to your business?
Mr. Indursky: Because of our unique appeal along with amazing spa services and products, we draw a very loyal following, so loyalty marketing is extremely important. It's about building on a great relationship. The catalogs are a key part of that strategy.
Ad Age: So what did you make of the contenders? Why did you choose Innerspin?
Mr. Indursky: Initially I thought Innerspin was stiff as boards, and MC Squared was fun and lively. When we left the briefing meeting we wanted to work with MC Squared. But when we visited Innerspin we realized they also had a great environment. Their pitch was all about storytelling, and their print ad was beautiful. MC Squared showed off more things, but what ended up hurting them is they didn't have one solid idea but a lot of different ideas. And that happens a lot at agencies.
Ad Age: How important is the right fit beyond the actual creative?
Mr. Indursky: Fit is hugely important. First, I like to collaborate with agencies and in some ways be part of the creative process. Some agencies don't like too much client involvement, and I respect that, but it's not for me. Also, I like a small, aggressive, resourceful agency dynamic. The process-laden big agency mentality to me is often time-consuming, wasteful and frustrating. Again, that's just me.