By Aaron Perlut
In episode four of AMC's new reality TV series The Pitch, New York-based agency Conversation vies with Charlotte-based BooneOakley for the business of fast-growing snack-maker PopChips, which is looking to have an agency "create a digital video or interactive campaign that people will want to share."
English translation: Make something that will ultimately go viral.
As in episode three, the contrast in agencies is stark, which is certainly by the producer's design. But what is most astounding, at least to me, is the manner in which Conversation founder and CEO Frank O'Brien polarizes, well, anyone within arm's reach.
We know we are in for a treat when O'Brien remarks about his initial impressions of BooneOakley after the initial brief from PopChips CEO Keith Belling and his team.
"The questions the other agency asked were kiss-ass, which is very off-putting," he tells us. And later he informs us that "We're usually the first to utilize new forms of media" (just like Conversation's Flash website that inhibits SEO and limits usability).
Then comes a cultural train wreck inside the walls of Conversation.
O'Brien enters the team meeting and informs his staff the campaign will be "People of Pop," a website where people will upload videos and photos (novel idea), with a video that will set the world record for the longest, most viewed viral video ever. No brainstorm, no collective thought, nada.
One of his employees looks dumbfounded, remarking, "That's not very impressive."
O'Brien then tells us about his perspective on ideas or concerns that emanate from staff: "My focus isn't on other people's opinions."
Design director David Orellano is seen struggling with O'Brien's concept, arguing with his boss (who is utterly dismissive of any concern), leaving work to play drums and clear his head, and then we are told Orellano has had a breakthrough â¿¿ apparently "The Year Of Pop," which essentially encompasses the initial "People of Pop" concepts.