Reality (TV) is Merely an Illusion

fletchrowLast night on the season premiere of AMC’s “The Pitch,” the Nashville advertising and communications firm Fletcher Rowley, best known for its work in political consulting, competed against some mooks from Atlanta for an account with College Hunks Hauling Junk. CHHJ, which recently expanded into the moving business (College Hunks Moving, which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it), has been experiencing what its president calls a brand “identity crisis,” and so went looking for ad agency help rethinking its overall approach to branding. Enter reality TV’s “The Pitch.”

The hour-long AMC show follows the two competing agencies firms through their internal creative processes, culminating in oral presentations — the pitches — made to the client firm’s leadership. Fletcher Rowley proposed that CHHJ lose the “college hunk” concept and completely rebrand as Heroic Movers and Haulers. The Atlanta agency, a capitalization-challenged firm called breensmith (adding to the edginess: a shaved head guy in charge and a woman with pink hair on the team), suggested keep the CHHJ brand for the hauling side of the business, and brand the moving side as Hunks and a Dolly. After the two pitches, the agency types stand around in the hallway (with far less trash talk than this demanding viewer would have liked to see) while the client firm’s executives make their decision. They summon the agencies back in and announce the result: breensmith gets the gig. A crushing defeat for the home team.

But wait: within a few minutes after the show’s credits roll FR’s Bill Fletcher tweets the all-important denouement:


Fletch and Rowley expanded on this in a TwitLonger post:

Now that you have seen the show you know that it looked like we “lost” during the actual filming. Truth is, a few days later filming completed the College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving guys reached out to us and, ultimately, they hired us instead of the firm they selected on the show. It’s a cautionary tale about some of the limitations of non-scripted television because if it doesn’t happen when the cameras are rolling then it didn’t happen. We had hoped that AMC and the producers might put a note to that effect at the end of the show but we understood when it was made clear to us that the show was edited and locked and they couldn’t make any changes. We were fine with that decision as long as we could tell the rest of the story after the show aired and that’s what we’re doing now.

You’ll encounter no evidence of this real reality outcome on the breensmith twitter feed or anywhere that I could find on the AMC show’s website. Reality, as Einstein said, is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.


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