« Keep in touch with friends. Use real names in ads. | Main| Moody Fruit. »

August 29, 2006

Winning by not winning.

Banner_1 Today, our agency was informed that we were not selected as the winner of a recent pitch. It was for a piece of business that we wanted, and it would have been valuable to us. The potential client had good things to say about the thinking we demonstrated. One of the determining factors, we were told, is that our agency culture wasn't the best fit for them.

As competitive people, we hate to lose for any reason. However, losing (at least partly) because of our agency culture is actually good news. For us and for our not-to-be client. Much better to remain friends than get involved in a relationship that wouldn't work in the long term.

Our stated business goal is to become an agency that is intensely appealing and valuable to a small pool of clients who need our strengths and share our beliefs.

We believe in our goofy sheep-hating mantra. We believe engagement is much more important than exposure. We believe in the kinds of minds that we've hired. We believe in the way we encourage those minds to work together to solve challenges for our clients. We take the work seriously. We take fun seriously. We believe in shooting straight about who we really are.

If those beliefs are starting to cost us money, then I have to believe we're doing something right.

File under news from Sullivan Higdon & Sink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Winning by not winning.:


Nice insight. If you stick to those beliefs, I have to believe they'll soon start to make you money.

You're an asshole if you think that you won by losing a pitch. You lost because your culture sucks and isn't adaptable. Grow up.


We would have liked to have won. But changing who you really are to fit a given situation isn't going to get you anywhere in the long run. Or maybe it will if you don't really believe anything. I guess it comes down to living a brand. Which we did. It wasn't the best fit for the client. We're cool with that. If that makes us assholes, so be it. But no one involved seemed to look at it that way. Including the client.

It's a fine line between authenticity and adaptability. And only you can draw it. I'm gonna sell that to the fortune cookie people.

Kudos to you.

Clients come and go, but a defined agency culture is forever.

A great new book i read, called "Take a Stand For Your Brand" by Tim Williams, talks all about that.

I think this a solid way to look at the situation.

Let's do some creative re-jumbling and imagine that the client had chosen you, but indicated the culture issue, as well. Would SHS have taken the same stance and turned down the business or, communicated to the client the concern over the differing cultures being able to successfully work together? Would SHS suggest to the client that if culture is really an issue, maybe they should choose another agency?

That would be taking a stand for your brand.

"But changing who you really are to fit a given situation isn't going to get you anywhere in the long run."

This is your quote.

If you can't change immediately on the spot, you're Grey. Good luck.

Business to business.

Mark, I don't think we're debating the same point. I agree you have to be nimble and adapt to change. But that's not the same thing as deciding you're not going to attempt to be all things to all people.

You're probably better off wothout them. Everyone in advertising has lost a pitch, better it be for your culture than lack of skill/ability. Stick to who you are and it will pay off in the long...well thats what im hoping for as well.

And to "MARK" get the sand out of your vagina and grow up. Not everyone wants to be some corporate clone.

Corey, learn to spell. It will help you out in life. Learn punctuation. It will help you out on your next DUI.

By the way, I'm a great fan of AC, just not with you on this one.

You don't need a client that's:
1. scared of your agency culture
2. not committed to his/her business.

Come on, a client should be picking an agency on how that agency is best going to build that client's business. Period. Nothing else should come into play. If they're not choosing an agency based on what's best for their business, then they're not looking for an agency. They're looking for a vendor.

By the way, you're in great company. Most of today's greatest agencies have lost pitches based on the "we don't think your agency's culture is the right fit for us" excuse.

Just ask Alex Bogusky, Jeff Goodby, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Pat Fallon, and anybody at BBH, Mother, Arnold and Mullen.

If a client doesn't understand that an agency's unique culture is one of the facets that make that agency special, then that client doesn't deserve to work with that agency and benefit from it's talents.

Congrats again.

Look at the bright side - at least you didn't make a chumpy 'viral' video about the pitch for thousands to see and then lose ;)

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Latest Podcast

Ad Age Power 150

As Heard On

Radio Talent Zoo


Audio Comments

Record a comment from your computer right now. Be pithy.


Recent Comments

Podcasting Links

Sites of Note

Talent Zoo Column

Everything I need to know about advertising I learned from Star Wars