There's been a lot of talk recently about how brands have leveraged the enormously successful James Bond film Skyfall to create partnerships and placements that benefit them. This is not another post about that.
I watched Skyfall a few weeks ago and I loved it. Curiously, the least enjoyable parts for me were the parts where brands were overt in their placement, but maybe that's just me.
After watching the film, I asked myself why I enjoyed this one much more than the previous two Daniel Craig efforts. There are a few reasons why, and when you look at those reasons through an agency lens, I reckon you can use those ingredients as a framework for pitching...
Five Things Skyfall Can Teach Us About Pitching.
1) The serious business of getting the job done.
One of my criticisms of previous Daniel Craig efforts was that he seemed superhuman and impenetrable. There to get the job done and nothing else. But the truth is this ruthless element that focuses on the business at hand and nothing else is a key asset for Bond, and he can separate his emotions with the work in hand seemingly by flicking a switch.
Pitch Learning: Business is business and the first thing you need to do is convince the client you will deliver the business effect they want. Their career and results rely on you and your work, so reassuring them of your clinical delivery is key.
2) The personal business of adding some emotion.
Skyfall adds depth where other Bond films don't. There's a bit of humour in there that balances out the seriousness from above. But the way it's delivered is from the heart. Forget the nod-and-wink of Roger Moore's Bond, Daniel Craig adds a believably human side to the character not seen since George Lazenby's wife got killed.
Pitch Learning: As much as clients want the job done, they also want to know they're working with human beings with vulnerabilities, emotions and passions outside of work. If you win you're going to be spending lots of time together so it's vital they buy into you as a person.
3) Be yourself and develop your character.
After 50 years, you'd think we would all know who James Bond is and where he came from. Besides a niche audience of experts, I think it's fair to say that Skyfall taught us more about Bond than the previous 10 movies. Daniel Craig seems to have really settled into the role finally, and he's totally believable delivering the Bond persona. This is a combination of good scriptwriting, a good story and practice with his delivery.
Pitch Learning: Practice Practice Practice. Learn Learn Learn. Get as much under your belt as possible, whether that's shadowing someone or if you're more senior, constantly learning new approaches and tips from the masters. All of this ammunition will make sure you can be yourself in the pitch itself instead of an actor learning his role.
4) Develop the situation and sell in what is coming next.
Toward the end of Skyfall you think you know what's coming, then the story goes full circle in a way that makes you think the end is the beginning. It's a beautiful little touch at the end of the movie that gives you a warm feeling in your gut. It's a well known trick in the writing world, and there's a place in every pitch for Chekhov's Gun. The fact that the one in Skyfall started some 50 years ago is beautiful.
Pitch Learning: You might not have 50 years to build the story, but round the presentation off with something you seed at the beginning.
5) Leave people wanting more.
At the end of Skyfall, I wanted the next movie to start immediately. I wanted the story to continue because it had enthralled me so much. It's a very fine balance that achieves this feeling. On one hand you have to explain the whole story to me to get me buying into it, but then you have to seed a little extra content there to get me thinking. Skyfall does this by rooting the story into reality - the 'now'.
Pitch Learning: Answer the brief, get the job done, but leave a little sprinkling of dust for the end to make people want more. This might be some added value or it might be rooting your ideas in reality and telling people what's next.
There are lots of reasons agencies win and lose pitches, and I've learned and evolved in all my years of pitching and presenting, so I'm not saying the learnings above will turn a 'Troll 2' into a 'Skyfall', but they're approaches I have used and continue to use.