Cadillac’s head marketer blithely discusses pitch for his business. Prior to awarding it.

May 28, 2013

Happy handicapper, Cadillac’s Craig Bierley

I’m not sure why newly appointed Cadillac advertising director, Craig Bierley chose to give an interview to Adweek about Cadillac’s agency review, which has been going on since early this year. According to Adweek, he and his cohorts listened to four presentations last week from the contenders, comprised of agency groups from Interpublic, Omnicom and two teams out of Publicis, including the incumbent Fallon.

But interview he did. Bierley merrily goes on the record stating the agencies delivered “really solid work.” He qualifies the remark by saying “some were better than others.”

Doesn’t that go without saying?

Sounding a bit like a sports DJ, he then offers this morsel: “There’s parts of each team we like better than other parts of each team. Strategy over here might work better with this creative but you don’t get to do that [laughs].”

This definitely should have gone without saying. Or laughing.

In my opinion, the whole interview should not have happened. It’s bad form, plain and simple. First of all, if someone from any of those agencies had spoken to the press about the Cadillac pitch they’d have been doomed. Clients loathe when agencies go on record about anything really but especially pitches. For example, if a copywriter were to Tweet “Just finished our Caddy pitch. Killed it!” he’d have been called to a corner office and reprimanded, likely even fired. We are taught to keep our mouths shut… or else. So, yes, I think it’s crappy when a client does so just because he can.

Writing about the interview on Adpulp, Dan Goldgeier weighed in as follows: “There’s a lot of money, pride, prestige, egos, and jobs at stake. Frankly, I feel for anyone laboring in the lower ranks of agencies involved in this pitch.”

Honestly, I feel sorry for the senior pitch teams as well. If I’d put months of time into this pitch I would feel awful reading such an article. Pitch teams go through the wringer getting ready for their presentations. Dozens of brutal meetings. Even more late nights. Enduring withering criticism from your peers and senior management from New York. Making countless changes (some of it against your will). Mortgaging your family life (again). And practicing…all that soul-crushing practice.

Then to go online and see the man you’ve worked months to impress, the penultimate decision maker, glibly calling it all “iterative,” saying the winner “could be Fallon. It could be IPG.” If I’m not part of one of those agencies what am I to think? Or even if I was? Either way, I don’t like being talked about like a racehorse.

In fairness to Bierley, he discusses the painstaking measures his team took to insure the process was “fair” and “transparent.” That may be so but he should have declined giving such an interview until after a verdict was given, if at all. There’s a reason jurors (let alone the Jury Foreman) don’t talk about trials until after they’re done. While a trial isn’t the same as a pitch (necessarily) accounting for human decency is.


4 Responses to “Cadillac’s head marketer blithely discusses pitch for his business. Prior to awarding it.”

  1. fred said

    I cannot understand what Mr. Bierley hoped to gain here. It seems like what in politics would be a “leak,” and a leak generally has a purpose.

  2. Nothing to see here folks. Just like any of a few dozen I have had the pleasure and pain of being involved with. Sorry Steffan, but to a lot (but not all) of clients we are merely “suppliers” these day.

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