Happy & Sad Presentations

I love it when I get a chance to work in industries beyond automotive.

Over the past few months, I’ve been involved in a couple of creative and business pitches on behalf of a global media title that I am associated with as a consultant. The two couldn’t have given me any more a polarising experience than they did.

Whenever I am involved in a complete creative thought for a brand, I first dive into the “what” of it. What exactly does the brand want to achieve through that creative marketing effort?

The result needs to be of value to the consumer. It should be experiential and not simply blatant, in-your-face selling or a forced brand-integration. Consumers are getting increasingly intelligent and sensitive to content and marketing, so doling out nonsense is not going to land anyone anywhere.

Then I hover around brand ethos, audience profiling and finding overlaps, trends and establishing psychographic syncs. This process is much more complex than it sounds. There are clear science and captivating behavioural analytics behind it.

Every such process results in several yo-yo reactions on calls with other team members, further research refinement and finally some appropriate ideas are inked on paper. Or typed and designed on screen.

Both the presentations involved much the same amount of work, but one afforded greater satisfaction than the other.

On the Zoom meeting with the client, we went from casual greetings to random chit-chat about things are at everyone’s end. There were about a dozen people, so you can imagine how the conversation went from the effectiveness of the lockdown to if the anti-China emotion will be fleeting or stay long.

After several laughs, the presentation got underway. It was nice and allowed us to make a compelling case for our thought and the client’s team was happy that we went so deep into understanding things from the brand’s perspective yet keeping the consumers at the centre of everything.

It was a 2-hour online meeting that went fantastically well. We sealed the deal recently!

The other online meeting took place a few days back. Well-before the date and time were fixed, we were informed that we’ll “have a 15-minute window”. My instant reaction was “what the f…”

The meeting day arrived and our call was scheduled for 4 pm — a time which is the worst for meetings of such kind. People are disinterested. They’d have had lunch between 1-2 hours prior and laziness usually settles in making eyes go heavy.

A meeting at such a time? No, thank you!

And that’s why I tried to again perk up the participants — even more in number than the first meeting — but the first minute went by ensuring that everyone’s audio was working well and they could all see the screen that I’d shared.

So the greetings were basic, there was no build-up and no casual conversation to warm up everyone. It was very surgical. Get to the process and then talk them through the idea.

When I reached the end, there was still no emotion. One agency girl came on the mic and asked if there were any questions and not a single person uttered anything. The silence was haunting. I reckon they were yawning behind their muted microphones and were completely hooked to the clock to announce that it was time to end the call.

It was one of the most pathetic meetings I’d been a part of and presentations I’d given.

Agencies are brand advisory bodies but some people don’t know the basics. I urge you, agency people, to understand basic human behaviours. It’ll help everyone a lot.

I heard just yesterday that we are in top-two, so I guess we did not do all that bad. I was uneasy after that presentation. It wasn’t my natural approach and I was constantly thinking about things I wanted to say or present in that meeting. The fact that we’re in the final consideration set is a solace.

But it is really not.

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