Who Doesn’t Want To Be A Millionaire?10th June, 2020 by Rob Metcalfe
The screening of ITV’s highly entertaining Quiz a couple of months ago brought memories of a pitching disaster flooding back which I think I have suppressed for the last 22 years.
At the time I was MD of a once great agency that had rather fallen on hard times when, thanks to the networking genius of our formidable CEO, we were invited to pitch for a new TV gameshow, provisionally titled Cash Mountain. Our proposal was, if I say so myself, brilliant.
It had news gen ideas galore, stunts, including the “theft” of a million pounds on the way to the studio, and much much more. And the pitch went remarkably well. This account was clearly going to be ours, make us famous again and revive the fortunes of the agency.
Right up, that is, until the point where the man from Celador mentioned that they were considering Chris Tarrant as host for the new show. I don’t think I actually blurted out the words “What? That washed up loser from Capital radio?”, but whatever I did say conveyed the same impression: We (I) didn’t think it was a good idea. My colleagues rapidly backtracked and tried to repair the damage, but our fate, not to be the PR agency representing one of the biggest TV shows of all time, was cast.
Of course, they were right and I was wrong. Chris Tarrant defied my character assassination and proved himself to be the consummate Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? front man.
If there was a lesson to be learnt here about caution, I didn’t learn it and have continued to say what I think at pitches ever since. Sometimes it is well received, others not, but on balance probably more of the former than the latter. Having an opinion, even if it turns out to be wrong, is better than having no opinion at all. And if it turns out to be right, you’re doing what a good consulting agency should be doing.