PR Awards 2023
Pitch rituals: Agency heads on celebrating (or picking themselves up) after a grueling pitch

Pitch rituals: Agency heads on celebrating (or picking themselves up) after a grueling pitch

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They are time consuming, resource intensive and down right exhausting. Yet, they are considered the lifeline of the advertising and marketing industry. Yes, we are talking about pitches. 

Year after year, agencies strut into rooms filled with clients to show off their best talents, and boast their most creative ideas in the hopes of winning the business.

Armed with intensive planning and research, agencies know that to keep afloat in today's tumultuous economy, they must choose the right pitches to be a part of - or risk exhausting the already diminishing talent pool in the ad market. 

So what makes a good pitch? Well, according to Meltwater, customisation (a basic 101) is key when it comes to creating a pitch deck. Understanding the client's business and showing how cost and time can be saved, and productivity can be increased within the client organisation also often makes or breaks the process for an agency, said the company. And of course, through all of this, authenticity and credibility will be vital to winning the race.

Another element that is often crucial in nabbing the account is chemistry - and we don't just mean chemistry between the client and the agency, but rather the team as well. We hear from agency heads on how they celebrate (or pick themselves up) after a grueling pitch period, and what they do to make the tiring process a little bit more fun.

Alvina Seah, managing director of GOVT:

alvina seah

We like to make the briefing for pitches fun. Depending on the client, we try to make a day out by interacting directly with the brand or product that we are pitching for, so this could be by going to their outlet or do store visits.

There were other times where we have our own winning song that we listen to before the presentation. It usually helps with calming nerves and hopefully bring some of that feel good vibes into the presentation room.

Joseph Tan, CEO of ROMP:
joseph tan 1

Pitches generally take around two to three weeks of prep, and involve no lesser than 15 people.

The secret to a great pitch is free food. You need to keep your team well fed.

In Indonesia, I fuel my team with the Indonesian take of the murtabak - sweet and filled with condensed milk, sugar and butter. Pitches are also usually held between two to five pm in the afternoon, which is the perfect time to snack on the murtabak.

Presenting pitches on a sugar high really boosts the teams' morale. The social lubricant for Asians is food - we get to catch up and share over a good meal. 

Ai Ling, managing director of Wild Advertising:
ai ling pitch

Wild’s ritual before a pitch always involves food, same ritual after a pitch. Our poison before the pitch deadline – McDelivery. Our creative department has probably eaten three truckloads of McDelivery since we started Wild.

It’s kind of like our last supper before going into the “slaughterhouse”.

After each pitch presentation, we usually end up at a dessert place to wind down. Come to think of it, the more difficult the presentation, the more indulgent the dessert. Last month, we came out of a particularly difficult pitch presentation and immediately headed to Creamier for waffles and ice cream. For my personal ritual just before the presentation, I put my high spirited game face on, raise my tone a few octaves and go, ”rock and roll guys!” to motivate the team. No prizes for guessing my age!

Jude Foo, co-founder and general manager, nine:twentyeight:
jude foo

Well for pitches the most important part I feel is the sustenance of the team, so "makan" is really important. You fill good, the team will feel good. We once ordered Hai Di Lao into the office (yes including the electric stove and hot pot, mala soup and raw ingredients) for the team. It was over the weekend as the pitch submission was due on a Monday. That was the only time we ever did hot pot as the whole office smelt of mala when people came back to work.

Ambrish Chaudhry, managing director of Superunion:
chaudhry pitch

I can already imagine my team rolling their eyes as I say this all the time. “Never walk into a pitch without having won it first.” By that I mean know everything there is to know about the client, their business challenge and the decision makers. Also never be afraid to be yourself and bring the team’s internal chemistry to the client. Eventually that’s what they’re buying.

Marianne Admardatine, CEO of H + K Strategies Indonesia:
marianne admardatine

For us, H+K Indonesia, the team has two habits when facing a pitch: music and food. My team usually indulges in what they call "happy food" and listen to upbeat music, mostly Indonesian, Korean, and Western. We also take turns and delegate who buys what, or does the brainstorming in cafes or restaurants. Once all our prep is done, and all that is needed is practice, we down more food – usually over dinner, where we will eat inside the meeting room while practicing. So, the vibe of the team during prep is usually livelier, and a lot of laughs tend to happen as well!

Anish Daryani, founder and president director at M&C Saatchi Indonesia:
anish pitch

At M&C Saatchi Indonesia, we do have some specific rituals we carry out, such as rehearsing the pitch, mock presentations, and mock Q&A sessions. But a rather unique thing I do before every pitch is my "pep talk" to my team before every pitch. It's a little joke within the team with the guys, where they try to second guess what I'm going to say. And I manage to surprise them every time.

However, we do focus on making every pitch presentation an “experience” for the client.

On one instance, we all dressed up like hipsters to impersonate the client’s target audience. And we even sang a rap song… live! On another occasion, one of our colleagues sang the Brand Manifesto strumming his guitar. Theatrics always make the presentation more appealing, but of course it needs to have substance above all else.

What are some of your quirky pitch rituals? Share with me at

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