How our small-but-mighty shop won business from the world’s biggest advertiser
Compared to the pure suck of 2020 it seems like a dream now, but 2019 was its own kind of nightmare for Cornett, our agency in Lexington, Kentucky. The shift to project work. Shrinking budgets. Evolving client dynamics. We weren’t immune to any of it.
Raise your hand if you can relate.
Never the type to take a step backward, we kept doing what we do best—producing effective work, earning buzz, and using creativity to create big business advantages for our partners. We willed ourselves into the mindset that everything was an opportunity. We stayed true to our style. And, most importantly, we never stopped shooting.
Being just an hour and a half down the road from Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, it’s the understatement of the century to say the company has been on Cornett’s radar since our inception over 30 years ago.
In 2019, in the midst of all the aforementioned hardships and for the first time ever, we saddled up and rode to the Ad Age Small Agency Conference in New Orleans, laser focused on one thing and one thing only. We were going to participate in P&G’s Elevator Pitch, an opportunity for 50 small shops to sell themselves in five minutes to the largest advertiser in the world. We were going to knock it out of the park. And we did.
We practiced. A lot. Pitching ourselves in a makeshift elevator isn’t something we do often, so we wrote a fun script that answered P&G’s questions in a way that showcased our unique personality.
As a joke, we even invited the P&G team to meet us at the Cracker Barrel off exit 159, halfway between Lexington and P&G HQ, for some fried chicken, biscuits & gravy.
Our unorthodox pitch earned us a visit from the crew at P&G and big praise from Pete Carter, VP of brand building and integrated communications. Their team even sent us some hilarious selfies from the Dry Ridge, Kentucky Cracker Barrel on their way down and awarded us a handmade trophy for our efforts as a 2019 P&G Elevator Pitch Champ.
In the months since we got our foot in the door with that fateful elevator pitch, our new friends at P&G gave us a shot at some of that elusive business we’ve had our eye on.
Today, in the madness that is 2020, Cornett finds itself on uncommonly firm ground. Pandemic be damned, we’ve pivoted and pivoted and pivoted again to navigate the crisis and produce two national TV spots as part of a debut campaign for a new product in P&G’s vitamin and supplement category.
So what did we learn from the process?
Make it fun. We’re not saying it’s a great idea to invite every potential client to meet you at an interstate chain restaurant. We’re just saying, more often than not, it pays to let your true colors shine through. We showcased some of our best work for P&G, but it was our sense of humor that left a lasting impression.
We mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Practice. A five-minute elevator pitch to P&G is not the time to be ad-libbing. Know exactly who’s saying what when and how. The confidence that comes from having a pitch that’s second nature is invaluable.
And last but not least, get to the point when sharing work and capabilities. Focus on what you do best and own it. What is your “superpower” as they like to say? It’s a great question to ask of your agency at any time.
Does your shop want a chance to pitch for P&G? Some shops attending the virtual Ad Age Small Agency Conference Aug. 3-5 will get that opportunity. Sign up here.