What’s the best place in the pitch order for an Ad Agency?

best chanceA question I am often asked by ad-agency colleagues is, “Does it matter where we are in the order of go at the final pitch?” My answer is as follows. I prefer to be either first up or last in the order. I am not fond of being stuck in the middle, especially if there are 5 or more finalists and, if the process extends over a few weeks.


When you are first up in the order you have the opportunity to spend a little more time setting up your research, insights and solutions. You also have the opportunity to be the first to answer the key questions that are in the clients minds, and set the benchmark by which all the others will be judged.


You are also most likely to get the most questions from the client, as everything is new and they are hearing it all for the first time. Do not be surprised however, if there may be less client interaction than you would hope for or expect. They may just be absorbing all the facts and information.


If you are able to go last in the order, you have the opportunity to be that star public prosecutor who makes the most convincing closing statement. Your presentation is the freshest in their minds and so are all the detail and the work you presented.


In that coveted final position you have to be more direct in your presentation style and to the point. Spend less time on the insights and set up. They have probably already heard similar information from five others agencies, and unless you have something new, it’s old hat by now.


 Interactivity is likely to be high as the client team are at the end of the process and less concerned about taking copious notes. The atmosphere may be a little more informal and relaxed too. This is the time that I believe it critical to get to the work even faster than you normally would, and support afterwards with the detailed facts. Sixty to eighty minutes of strategy and insights preceding the solutions, ideas and work will probably prove to be a killer for you. Get to the work as quickly as possible.


Theatre is more important and a higher level of energy and enthusiasm is required to pick the client team up and carry them through what’s probably been a grueling couple of weeks. Tony Louw of Louw’s Management always suggests starting off by making a bold promise or statement about what you will deliver to the client, should they hire your agency. This gets their attention immediately.


In reality, if you have done your homework, have actionable insights, great ideas and solutions supported by outstanding work/ideas, included measurement and proved out ROI as best you can….It probably does not matter where you are in the order of go.


Call me superstitious but I still like to be first or last!



2 Responses to What’s the best place in the pitch order for an Ad Agency?

  1. Lora Prill says:

    I appreciate the insight. It confirms what we’ve practiced for years. Our agency has learned firsthand that the long setup of strategy leading to solution is definitely an audience killer. Your statement of “get to the work as quickly as possible” is key. Because we considered ourselves a “strategic” agency, we loved to explain our “process” to potential clients. Unfortunately, they didn’t love to hear it. When we abbreviated the process, and moved quickly to the work, we came out the winner. Great information. Thanks!

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