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Interview with Jerry Stoner – Winning Agency from The Pitch

2012 June 7
jerry-stoner-the-pitch

Two Sunday’s ago, JDRF was the featured company that two agencies were to create pitches for on the AMC show, “The Pitch”.  The winning ad agency was Bozell.  I was able to have the opportunity to ask Jerry Stoner, their executive creative director, a few questions about the show and the ads they pitched.  For more information about the show, you can check out The Pitch at AMC.

For now, let’s get on with the questions.

Please introduce yourself and give us a quick description of what it is you do for a living.

My name is Jerry Stoner. I am executive creative director at Bozell in Omaha, Nebraska. My role is to oversee all aspects of creative print, broadcast, and digital work.

The client that you were “pitching” for, and ultimately won the pitch for, was JDRF. Have you worked with diabetes related companies in the past?

I haven’t personally, but Bozell has been a supporter of JDRF for a few decades. Our president and CEO in the 1990’s, Chuck Peebler, served on the organization’s board of directors, and we did a national advertising campaign that was strictly pro-bono. In the years since, we’ve held multiple local fundraisers with the proceeds benefiting JDRF.

I’ve been involved with my fair share of pitches in this industry, but have never had to sit in the same room as the competition. Is that a very awkward experience?

Yes, it is a bit awkward, but we didn’t make a big deal about it. We went in and introduced ourselves and had a nice conversation with Muse. It was not as awkward as it appeared.

Do you have any family members with diabetes?

No, I don’t.

The Diabetes Online Community, or DOC, has been known to have very strong opinions and not afraid to voice them. Have you seen feedback on a campaign (positive or negative) on this level like this in past? If not, is it due to it being a nationally televised campaign?

We’ve received mostly positive feedback from the Diabetes Online Community. Some of the negative comments were related to our creative executions, which weren’t fully revealed on the show. This situation is not really representative of how a campaign typically rolls out and generates feedback. We welcome feedback on all of our campaigns – in fact, we actively solicit it – but normally the public isn’t exposed to a campaign until it is executed.

In this case, what people saw on the show was a presentation of concepts that will ultimately shape the campaign for JDRF. There are a lot of steps from concept to execution that are missing in this context, simply because of the premise of the show and the unique situation it presented.

From the TV show, and possibly the editing, it did not seem like the JDRF was very receptive to the concept of TOD, but more focused on the Voice of One. Is the TOD concept still around, and can we look forward to seeing it in the future?

This was pure editing for dramatic purposes. Those were not the reactions JDRF had when we presented, and we also did not present the concepts in the order you saw. We first presented Be the Voice of One and then said, “So, how do we get people to know about Type 1?” TOD was to be a buzz-creator and tease element that would run for two weeks, and then we would “out” TOD as Type One Diabetes.

We believed that a strategy using non-traditional media to start conversations, build connections and ultimately drive contributions would accomplish several things, since the assignment was to create a rally cry, but with a very limited budget for execution. Much of this larger context was lost in the editing process of the episode, so there has been some confusion about TOD and how these two concepts co-exist.

As for when the actual campaign will roll out, it is yet to be determined. Unfortunately, JDRF’s giving is down 75% so we’re trying to figure out exactly what creative tactics the organization will be able to implement.

Be the Voice of 1 (http://bethevoiceofone.com/) has just under 1,000 Facebook likes since the airing of the show last Sunday. Would you consider this an initial success?

Yes, considering “The Pitch” episode was the only exposure and our marketing is wholly dependent on generating viral traction. The really exciting thing to me is seeing all of the twitter conversations beginning to populate the site.

Any last comments or thoughts about your experience working with JDRF?

JDRF is a great organization to work with. We’re excited about our continued involvement in helping to create awareness of type 1 diabetes as a serious, chronic disease that affects people of all ages, and we hope more people will donate to the one organization dedicated to finding a cure.

I want to thank Jerry and the folks at Bozell for allowing me the opportunity to ask a few questions.

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  1. June 7, 2012

    Excellent interview here, Chris. Thanks for stepping up and doing that, getting at such a great news topic and having your own experience in this area in the background. Was very interesting (or sad?) to read about the JDRF giving being down THAT much, though… will be interested to see what comes from this campaign as we move forward.

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