ariel hammer

Art Director at ROKKAN, NY/NY


June 24, 2013 at 4:19pm

Style Frames NYC, The Art of Pitch 

In February Leo Burnett sent me to Stash Media’s Styleframes Conference. Two days, one stage, 40 speakers and sold out audience of artists, advertisers, reps and producers made for a high intensity creative weekend.  

Styleframes was just the inspirational mid-winter pick me up I (and most in attendance) needed. The conference was casual. Speakers presented in an impressively honest ‘peer to peer’ tone, sharing work, process, victories, and (believe it or not) failures. Before attending I was hesitant to believe that competitive design professionals would *actually* expose their “coveted pitch secrets,” embarrassing exploratory work, or painful client feedback– but they all did.

The truth is the Arts community as a whole is constantly defending its value, and at the end of the day we are all in this together. Style frames asked speakers to come the stage not as designers, not as professionals, but as humans. On stage, People shared their experiences in hopes of arming the audience with inspiration and insight. ( Lucia Grillo from Psyop nicely captures the vibe of the conference in this teaser video) I could write more than anyone visiting a tumblr blog would ever read about each speaker, so instead will stick to a few of the conferences collective themes.

The best idea never wins.

• Reality is– most of the time the best idea doesn’t win. Relationships, company politics and budgets dictate a pitches outcome. In the interest of time, money, and quality of the creative product, shops are striving to form agency partnerships to create respectful “single bid” situations.

“If a client is triple bidding, they are usually asking for a reinvention, their rooting for surprise. But when clients ask for reinvention, then don’t have the guts to do it. The next time a client calls, assume they already know who they want to work with, so stop wasting time, negotiate for a single pitch or walk away.”   -panel discussion: ‘In Broadcast, life’s a pitch’

Spec Work is harmful

• In the event of a pitch, shops need to be compensated for their time and creative product.  

Free works for commodity products (ex: test drive a car). Free does not apply to professional services.” –

Pitching starves the creative process.

“HUSH clients are involved and work with us to create a vision. We can’t just pretty something up. We need brand support and knowledge to actually come up with an idea … We Believe in process, research leads to minimum possible answers.” – HUSH

Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

“We’re comfortable with being uncomfortable. Its okay to say ‘We don’t know’ every design is different… so cut the bullshit. We never say ‘we know how’ but we promise we’ll figure it out.” – HUSH

My eyes are up here

“Our Job is to educate clients so they can talk to us about the work on the same eye level.” – Sehsucht

Failing makes you ugly

“If we lose? Then it least we made something new.” – B Reel

• Pitches have r&d and innovation value, Re-skin and recycle pitches, Build a toolbox of resources, A chance for team bonding. 

“Even though you lose, your not a looser” – Psyop

“Listen carefully to what it is critics don’t like, then cultivate it. Its what makes your art unique.” – Sehsucht (referencing pictoplasma event)

Ideas are the premium. Concept is king.

• Lead with Strategy. Keep visual design out of the initial pitch to focus on the quality of the idea.  

We rarely do designs for pitches. We stick to reference images to create a mood.” – B Reel

“The democratization of tech makes tools less important, and your thought and content most important.” – Sehsucht

• Watch 'Playing by our own rules'  Teaser video, featuring HUSH creative director Jodi Terwilliger.


  1. arielhammer posted this