Tag Archives: pitch

The post-match interview

For me, one of the intriguing aspects of television coverage of football is the post-match interview. Obligatory, to ensure exposure of sponsor identities, they give us an opportunity to witness the art, or not, of pitching under pressure particularly by the losing managers.

They have at least three tough audiences. First, there is the owner, as often as not obscenely wealthy and wildly capricious, who must be persuaded to keep on employing them. Sven, seemingly despite Man City’s good performance, did not come across in a manner that reflects the self-image of a former Prime Minister of Thailand!

Secondly, the players who, I assume, watch highlights like the rest of us. The way the manager defends even the most indefensible, must be a critical first step towards rebuilding confidence. Blaming the ref for everything is the unsurprising solution.

Finally the supporters, “keep forking out for the high price tickets, we will be worth it next time”.

It may be pitchcoach bias on my part, but it seems to me the top eight or so Premiership managers, win or lose, give stronger, more charismatic interviews than the rest. Does this, in part at any rate explain their success?

The “three tenors” were Ferguson, Wenger and the “special one”, Mourinho. With Jose’s departure, it seemed at first that the self-styled “ordinary one”, Grant, would be blown away in the interview stakes. He has found his own quietly impressive voice. Let’s see who performs best in Moscow, winner or loser.

It can be tough as the incumbent.

In most pitches, and this is highlighted by what is happening in London, the competitors fall into two , attitudinally, very different groups.  The incumbent who has every thing to lose and the challengers with everything to gain.

In business,  reviews leading to a pitch are either down to a statutory review or, particularly in the service sector, a failure in the relationship. This may be rationalised  on performance grounds, or change of people on either side, but in reality  it will be a  staleness, a loss of energy in the way the two sides get on.

In this scenario the incumbent has a tough task on its hands. In the ad agency world it is estimated that  only 5% retain in the repitch.  So if change is in the air what is the best response?  There are ,I believe,  three main approaches to consider.

The first is to beat the client to the punch, recognise changes are needed and initiate a review/re-eavaluation , non competitive,  perhaps with an impartial intermediary.  The second is to resign the business, declining to repitch, always a tough call  but one which can reduce the emotional and actual impact of a losing situation.  Finally there is the option to fight on , probably with new blood in the established team.

In the early nineties, Saatchi  faced a difficult pitch to retain British Airways, against newly formed M&C Saatchi known to have stong relationship with CEO Sir Colin Marshall. Despite misgivings, massive effort, emotional and physical, went into the pitch. To no avail, Marshall did not bother to turn up  for half of the presentation, the account moved.  The negative impact of the wasted effort was in many respects greater than the loss of the business.

Ken, of course, faces a statutory review, but he is the one with everything to lose, attitudinally the tougher place to be.


Clinton. A lesson in energy.

For most of us ,taking part in a pitch is stimulating but we manage the energy needed in fits and starts, building to a crescendo in the last day or so.  Burning midnight oil in a macho way ,we finalise proposals(just), edit the proposal (just), rehearse (just or not) and arrive on time (just) to present.

Carried along by adrenaline we get through the pitch, pat ourselves on the back, and collapse into the nearest bar.

Compare this with what must be one of the most ferociously competitive pitches in years, Clinton vs Obama.

Every single day, week in week out, they are in flat out pitch mode.  Live TV debates, interviews, press conferences, platform speeches, receptions, door-stepping, handling hecklers, kissing babies, responding to focus groups or headlines or opinion polls or ‘misspeaks’. All that on top of the daily tactics, dirty or otherwise, to undermine the opposition and the constant pressure to motivate the home team.  WOW.

Obama may be in the lead, and he has the charisma, but he may not have the same astonishing and sustained energy level of the ‘come-back’ kid. Clinton is exuding energy, a highly infectious quality. I would not bet against her just yet.