In the ad world, client pitches are an integral part of winning new business. For a specified (usually short) amount of time, agencies scramble to pull together a proposal that highlights their team, strategy, timeline, scope of work, and of course, their very best creative. For clients, agencies are evaluated on a number of characteristics such as their confidence, capability, team, process, ability to deliver, creativity, and in recent years, data. So while shows like “Mad Men” romanticize the pitch process with dazzling creative presentations and advantageous creative strategies that leave the room in awe; today, more and more clients are focusing lesson the creative show and more on the data behind the strategy.


The agency model is shifting. Many clients are moving away from the traditional “Agency Of Record” model to a “Project-by-Project” model. This means agencies are constantly on the hunt for the next big account and revenue stream. But since creative is no longer the be all end all in the pitch process, in order to secure these ‘big accounts’, the insights presented in the pitch room need to be smarter.

Data enlightenment

Historically, “creatives” and “data crunchers” haven’t seen eye to eye on the advertising spectrum. Over the years many ad execs have even argued that data kills creativity. But while creative can leave a lasting impression, without the right data to inform a creative strategy, consumers today will quickly dismiss content that doesn’t align with their passions and interests. Prior to the digital era, gathering consumer insights in the form of market research was timely and expensive; especially for client pitches, which have no guarantee of success. Instead, it was possible that creative could be led by “gut-feeling”, experience, or intuition.

However, with more and more channels and content being produced every day, unless creative can strike a chord with its intended audience, it will simply be lost. In plain speak, there is no room for error and clients don’t want a gut-feeling to be tested on their dime.

Not only are clients expecting new creative strategies to be data-backed, but the advertising industry is as well. In 2015, the Cannes Lions Festival introduced a Creative Data Lion to recognize campaigns that used data as a catalyst for creativity. According to the Festival, “The Creative Data Lions were created to recognize campaigns using data as a catalyst for creativity; game-changing campaigns that clearly demonstrate an execution enhanced by the use, interpretation, analysis or application of data.”

Data actually leaves more room for creativity

As stated, gathering data was historically a timely process for agencies. When preparing for a pitch, agencies are often stretched to their limit and are operating in a major time crunch. The time simply wasn’t available to gather in-depth insights about a potential client AND create award-winning creative.

However, today with technologies, like Affinio, it is possible to uncover rich consumer insights faster than ever before. Within hours the Affinio platform gives you access to insights such as what naturally-forming tribes exist within any social audience, what are the audience’s interests and influences, how they self-describe, what the audience is talking about, what content they care about, and where they are socially active. Insights like these are needed to fuel an insightful creative strategy.

To learn more about audience insights, here are the 5 Things Marketers Need to Know About An Audience

By leveraging Affinio data, agencies can actually speed up their pitch process. Agencies are able to get to the root of the problem immediately and understand the client’s audience better than they do. With insights armed from the beginning, research is off-loaded and more time can be spent on producing data-backed pitch creative – a win-win scenario.

Data plus creativity tells a more powerful story

In today’s media landscape, it is critical that data and creative are married as audiences expect customized personal content. By using insights to fuel any creative strategy, agencies can create these engaging targeted personalized messages and wow their current and potential clients. One way we’ve seen our clients leverage Affinio data is by creating data-driven pitch personas. In essence, data tells you what to say, and creative tells you how to say it.

In short, data isn’t killing creative, it’s simply enhancing the consumer experience. As put by legendary American advertising creative director, Bill Berchman, “At the heart of an effective creative philosophy is the belief that nothing is quite so powerful as an insight into human nature.”

To learn how you can incorporate data into your next pitch, request a demo with Affinio.

Originally posted on the Affinio blog, “Why You Need to Take a Data-First Approach in Your Next Creative Pitch