The Pitch

The Pitch Q&A – Chris Breen and Tim Smith (breensmith)

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In the Season 2 Premiere of The Pitch, College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving chose breensmith as the winner. In an interview with AMC, breensmith President Tim Smith and Creative Director Chris Breen talk about why they decided to compete on the show, and what it was like pitching in front of their competition.

Q: What made you decide to have breensmith compete on The Pitch?

Tim: It was kind of a game show opportunity. I mean, it’s what we do, but it’s compacted down to week. It seemed like a fun exercise. We took a vote internally. Everybody was really into the idea, and we loved doing it.

Q: Did you think splitting the two College Hunks brand was a risky move for you?

Chris: Inherently, there’s always a risk. But the way we saw it, it was a no-brainer. All the basic research we had, and common sense, kind of said the name College Hunks implies that you’re paying a bunch of young kids to come and haul off a bunch of junk you don’t care about. So you’re not worried about things getting dinged up. That catchiness of that name didn’t necessarily hold true to the moving category, where you’re moving your grandmother’s piano or something like that.

TIM: But the name College Hunks is so quirky and it helped them grow really fast. You can see how a lot of people copied them after that, like Two Men and a Truck and Starving Students. So if you toss that name, you’re throwing away a lot of equity. So we thought we found a good business solution for them by keeping the quirkiness of the name and including a bigger audience, both men and women, by losing this “College” part.

Q: During your brainstorms, some pretty funny taglines like ”Six Packs Moving Racks” are suggested. Did any funny ideas come up after the shoot?

Chris: There was something about “junk in the trunk.” But in terms of the category and their existing name, we had a lot of fun coming up with that kind of stuff. But really it’s just like tossing a softball around. First, you throw all that stuff out there, get it all out of your system, then you can focus on the meat of the problem.


VIDEO: breensmith On Coming Up With Their Best Ideas

Q: What was your first thought when College Hunks asked the other agency to pitch in front of you?

Chris: I thought, Buckle up, this is going to be fun. At least we’re not going first.

Tim: You never really get to hear what the other agency is pitching. So the hardest thing was, after seeing them pitch, not being able to give your opinion on their pitch.  So it was tough not to debunk some stuff they were doing. I actually told the producers that it would make for some interesting fireworks to have each agency critique the other’s work.

Q: Have either of you ever had to pitch in front of another agency before?

Chris: Never.

Tim: Yeah, never. The client usually stacks the pitches, like two hours between each other. So you go in, do your thing and there’s a lot of mystery as to what the other agency is doing. Why you won or why they won.

Q: You say that you spend a lot of time “ribbing” each other in the office. What the nicest thing you’ve ever heard from the other?

Chris: “Hey Chris, glad you showed up to work today.” [THEY LAUGH] I think we know it’s all good-natured. We have a fun dynamic here. Everybody gets that we want to do the best work we can do and we all enjoy working with each other. So I think it’s a way to take the pressure out of things. We’re kind of loosey-goosey by nature. So if the cameras are in here and we started acting all serious, people would pick up on that and they’d probably start getting tight.

Q: Did having cameras pointed in your face affect your process at all?

Tim: I think the first couple of days it was disruptive, for sure.

Chris: But after that, it became less disruptive. Once we got into the meat of the presentation, everybody had to focus on what they were doing a lot more. I think there’s the initial reaction of “Hey, somebody’s watching me, somebody’s listening to me.” There’s a filter that goes on, whether you want it to or not. During the first three days we kept saying, “Oh sure, whatever you need.” But then after that, we were like, “Get out of our way, we’ve got work to do. Unless you want a pitch finale with no presentation.”

Tim: It was odd being on the other side of the camera. We’re used to being on the camera side, doing video, television spots, all kinds of content, radio, whatever.

Chris: There’s no camera in radio.

Tim: I know, I know.

Q: Were there any perks to having a camera crew follow you around?

Chris: Other than the boost to Tim’s ego? Well, it did help with parking.

Tim: Really, for us, being on camera all the time was exhausting. You’re conscious of the camera most of the time. We also had our regular work, our regular clients. They didn’t take the week off. But as far as perks go, I guess the whole thing. Getting breensmith out there, showing how we work on AMC, what we can do, hopefully that will be a perk.

Q: What did you do to celebrate your win?

Tim: We went out in Nashville drinking that night.

Chris: I think we’re still looking for some people.

Click here to read about what College Hunks Hauling Junk looks for in an ad agency.

Filed under: Interviews, The Pitch, Unscripted

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