I spent a lot of years running the interactive portion of new business pitches at my last agency. I realized along ago that more often then not they are not determined by the quality of the creative that gets produced. They are determined by who knows who and how cheaply you are willing to do your craft.
You may have read about the nightmare that was the Wal-Mart Ad Agency review over the past year. The Martin Agency was the eventual winner. I almost went to work there because they do great work. I have a huge amount of respect for their creative director Mike Hughes and have good friends who work there.
A few weeks ago they launched Wal-Marts new tag line of “Save Money. Live Better” but it has sparked all kinds of head-scratching around the industry thanks to a the fact that that a shop other than Martin actually came up Wal-Mart’s tag line. I first heard about this through former co-workers who now work at GSD&M who create a similar tag line, “Save More. Live Better,” which they had previously pitched when they were Wal-Mart’s agency. Wal-Mart has responded by saying that “Shop Smart. Live Better.” was on the creative brief that each finalist received. Martin then recommended the testing of a few tag lines and “Save Money. Live Better” emerged.
So just to recap: Wal-Mart went through two agency reviews and an embarrassing scandal only to result in an ad campaign that amounted to the re-use of something from the creative brief used before the review.