Basically, it's a show that pits two advertising agencies against each other in a competition to win a client in a "head-to-head, cut-throat, winner-takes-all showdown," otherwise known as "The Pitch."
On the show, they are given a week to prepare, but fortunately we were given two, since we wouldn't be able to stop everything we were doing and work solely on this project.
But, I still believe the "whining, the brainstorming, the blue-sky thinking" that is present on the show was present in our competition, too. Maybe not so much on the whining part, but more on the brainstorming and thinking out of the box. :)
So who was the client we were going to try and win over? The Human Resources (HR) Department. They wanted a "marketing makeover" for their Staff Training and Education Program, otherwise known as "STEP." The "brief," which is what they call the project in the advertising/marketing world, was this:
"The STEP Program helps to develop individual training needs, provides professional development, and supports the mission and values of the college. HR would like to stir up some excitement and urgency in staff signing up for training. We would like a marketing makeover in our announcements of classes and training awards as well as the STEP Web page."
HR staff members met with MAC staffers on Aug. 17 to go over the brief, and to allow time for questions, that is, after the teams were divided up. Fortunately, we have eight people in our office, and we were able to divide into teams quite easily (a marketer, web specialist, writer/PR/social media pro and designer). Once the brief was finished, it was time to get to work.
Most teams get to go back to their respective offices after a brief, however, that proved to be a little trickier for us, since we all worked in the same office, and the most tricky for me, since my "office" is a desk in the middle of the main lobby of our office. Plus my computer screen is the size of a car window so everyone can always see what I'm up to. Not good for doing "top secret business," especially after we discovered a spy. :) And so began the "friendly" competition in our office.
We were given one hour a day to work on "The Pitch," and to my team's surprise, we quickly discovered we had a our own personal timekeeper... AKA a member of the rival team who was making sure we weren't putting in any extra hours!
As you can see the competition heated up quickly. There were lots of meetings behind closed doors, meetings that were never officially scheduled on Outlook calendars, meeting locations that said "You Know Where" and even meetings that were titled "Secret Meeting." It was all in good fun, of course.
And yes, yours truly put on the Scooter McCougar costume for the first time ever (I almost made it to the three-year mark without having to do it). Of course it had to be one of the hottest and most humid days of the week, but I can now say, I have complete empathy for anyone who ever has to put that thing on, and I don't understand why anyone would want to do it for a living!
After hours of brainstorming, note-taking, designing artwork, updating Web pages, and coming up with the best ideas, I put it all together in a Prezi, my new favorite form of presentations. For those of you who haven't used it or heard of it before, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it's so much fun to use once you get the hang of it! I don't think I'll ever go back to PowerPoint again.
Then, finally, the day had come. On All College Day, Sept. 4, it was time to give our pitch. My team, CHiKK Marketing (which stood for Chris, Heather, Kanna and Kelly) was up first.
Apparently at lunch before our 3 p.m. presentation, they decided to scrap their entire presentation approach and go with something completely different. They certainly accomplished "different." They had a fun approach to introducing themselves as Blueprint, Ink., and instead of walking through a Prezi like we had, they laid out what looked exactly like a large blueprint of their "plan" for the new STEP program on the table, where they all gathered 'round to have more of a "discussion" than a presentation. It was creative, fun and much more intimate.
In the end, it was interesting to see what ideas both teams came up with, whether they were exactly alike (which there were a few of those) or totally different. It's amazing what you can do when you start to think outside the box.
Unfortunately, we wouldn't find out what HR's decision would be until two days later, which was fine with me because I had already planned a day off to spend at a Cardinals' day game!
The next day we convened in the MAC office to hear HR's decision. They played it up a little by bringing a baseball to throw to the winner, and our two team captains even brought their own gloves.
And then right as they were about to announce the winner, in true reality TV show style, they said, "We'll be back after the break," and they all walked right out the door! We were all laughing, but we were also dying to find out who the winner was! So we counted down and... drumroll please... they threw the ball to Heather, my team captain! Needless to say the team members of CHiKK Marketing were pretty thrilled! We each got our very own baseball signed by each HR employee, and there was cookie cake for all!