Why Isn’t There a Cannes Lion for Best Pitch?

By Ronald Wohlman, Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller, LBRBCollective

It’s universally accepted that winning a LION is akin to winning an Oscar in our industry. We love ‘em. We want ‘em.  And yes, mine got me a better job.

But I’ve also won a pitch for a $150MM that got 100 people better jobs.

Which begs my question.

The very process for growing our business, and our industry, and ultimately feeding the awards ecosystem, is totally ignored. Especially by the foremost awards show our industry has.

Pitching is an artform

Most agency executives agree, pitching is drudgery and painful. I believe when it’s done right, it can be fun and inspiring.   So what does that look like ?

It starts with the client. Who are they and what are they asking for ?  In my experience, the ask is never the ask, so right off the bat the pitch team needs to listen very, very carefully, and examine the RFI for all its nuance and complexity. Understanding who the client truly is, their industry and their business challenges is crucial. Much like Lion-winning campaigns, they are usually the ones that have most understood their audiences.

Next up is casting the pitch team.  Great chemistry is everything. You have to get experts from every discipline applicable to the client’s needs: from data analysts, to storytellers, designers, strategists, editors, project managers and all the roles in between. But the right personalities are paramount. You’re looking for the most animated and engaging talent with big ideas and no egos. People who work fast and play well together. Collaboration is key.

You’ll then want to infuse everything you do with creativity, ingenuity and  originality. And keep the process uplifting and energized. Clients can pick up the culture of an agency from the first hello.

Done right, the pitch can be the most electrifying experience you can have in an agency.

From the Pitch to the Palais.

The pitch gives us the opportunity to present brands with the boldest, bravest, breakthrough work. The kind of work that begins a LION’s journey.

I have personally presented work in a pitch for Rexona deodorant (USA) that made it to the SuperBowl intact. It was during the pitch that we established the kind of trusting and meaningful relationship with the client that led to more and more award-winning work. “This kind of magic should be celebrated.”

However, unless the agency wins the business, it can all be for nought. All this creativity goes unrecognized, and all the talent involved, unnoticed. Which in an industry that prides itself on rewarding talent and creativity, just doesn’t feel right.

Respect the Pitch

The more I pitch, and then step back just after the clients leave the building, and look at the magnificent spectrum of creativity presented, the more I genuinely wonder why the pitch is not recognized as a Cannes LION category?

Can you name even one person in our industry who consistently makes brilliant pitches happen?

In other words, I call on our industry to respect the pitch. It’s the birthplace of LIONS and the fastest team building opportunity you can have.

That said, I’m addicted to “the win” not the award.

About the Author

Ronald Wohlman is the Co-Founder and Chief Storyteller of LBRBCollective.  A growth company born for today. Activating left brain with right brain talent to help you pitch, win and grow your business. And have fun doing it.  He can be reached at ronald@lbrbcollective.com