The ability to pitch several decent marketing ideas is crucial in environments with multiple stakeholders. And let's be honest, almost every environment has multiple stakeholders. It's also crucial to balance pre-approved copy with calculated risks. (It's easy for organizations to become echo chambers and lose touch with their audience, especially as demographics shift and change.) Some writers prefer to pitch one idea at a time. I think that's outdated. Media just moves too fast. Coming up with a packet of several plausible ideas, honest tries, works great. Even when you include the obvious. Why? Because you start with workable ideas that mostly adhere to the style guide. From there, it's easy to find a consensus, and oftentimes, to collaborate and build off the fan-favorite. This leaves room for creativity.
I recognize that's a lot of copy just to say, "Hey, here are some of my past pitches that did well in the room." But what do you expect? I'm a writer.
Pitch 1 - Newfields and Meadow
Pitch 2 - IAAPA 2019
Initial show pitches begin as detailed discussions with the client. Below you'll see my notes for a client last year.
IAAPA CREATIVE PITCHES – KICKOFF 2019
1 - TRAVEL
2 - CONSTITUENCIES
3 - GLOBAL
This concept uses a simple map as the grounding design, the new logo, and all the new branding colors as the visual theme. The show sounds like travel. Airplanes taking off, in-flight sounds like call buttons, etc. (We may even consider serving a snack mid-show, though the budget may not permit.)
Audio MC – announcements only + interactive screen (We could easily create our own custom version of this with an IAAPA character.)
30 Minutes to Doors and following announcements (What’s New Videos could also go here. And we could also redirect people to where they will be playing in the show and encourage people to vote on “Best Of” with a special winner video posted on the website or YouTube account after the show.) We could also go with the flight attendant/airline theme for these videos since the theme would be travel.
Seating Announcements – the screen from the door announcements returns with comical public service announcements and fun, goofy side-missions for the audience (a la the Laugh Floor) High energy top 40 pop music is played that will make people feel fantastic. (and maybe a few oldies subliminally related to uplifting moments)
Opening Video – This would be a super simple, uplifting video with entertainment. The room would be divided into sections representing each continent and the video would use in-room participation queues to get people pumped. The overall sentiment is, “This is your show, your week, and your organization. This kickoff will get you caught up on the organization and ready for this week’s expo.”
Entertainment – basically, we do a better job of what we tried year one. We bring a few entertainment/theme park representatives of the national divisions from the opening video. For example, Africa, Asia, and Europe. I want to be crystal clear. These would be entertainers from those actual countries, not people in costumes. This being Orlando, we have a rich selection of international entertainers from which to choose. And we bring back the audience participation elements in a way that gets the room jumping. (Plus, we taught them how to do it during the opening. Sneaky.) I’d be looking to strike a balance with something highly visual (giant puppets), dancers, and singers or audio. We could afford some push here because everything else in the show will be so simple.
HOF Inductees – Could we create an actual hall of fame wall for the screens and zoom in on the new members to intro their videos? Or perhaps projection mapping for the walls?
Big Finish – Let’s have confetti in triangles and brand colors. Let’s have another “follow the yellow brick road” moment that leads guests to the show floor. Lighting queues and the return of the entertainment leading guests to the floor. (Do we do the ribbon cutting/confetti moment at the actual door as a live remote onscreen and a simple confetti cannon in the room with the above yellow brick road approach?)
Pitch 2 – GENRES & CONSTITUENCIES: Direct, Theatrical, Atmospheric, and Fun. This concept aims to go right down main street thematically by taking everything about IAAPA, enlarging it, and calling it out directly so members feel represented.
This still moves people from point A to point B quickly and retains the energy of pitch 1, but it injects story elements. Specifically, it invokes the genres and feelings of the member attractions. The biggest element of this show would be stage and production design.
This show sounds like kids jumping into a ball pit, water slides, roller coasters, kids brushing away sand in an exhibition, video games, carnival games, etc.
Year 1 and Year 2 were all about invoking the feel of loading a generic ride. This year, everyone gets a nod. Some elements from each constituency could decorate the stage. For example, a museum case and artifact, a waterslide, etc. (This could only work with good design. We’d need to be cautious it didn’t skew tacky. An Instagram trap for each constituency would be a great option too, then members could pose with them all week.)
MC – real person with lots of theme park experience they can show on the screen via pictures, we can wrap their history of experience into the presentation (Faith Boles, perhaps? She just co-hosted the 30th anniversary of Hollywood Studios with Mark Daniel.)
30 Minutes to Doors and following announcements – each announcement invokes a constituency via images and sound design. These would take simple visual concepts related to each constituency and use them to make our pre-show announcements.
Water Parks – bathroom breaks
Museums & Science Centers – quiet during the show, turn off your cell phones
Amusement Parks – feel free to laugh, dance, or cheer if you’re feeling it
Zoos and Aquariums – traffic, seat-saving, etc.
Entertainment – option two features custom entertainment, something like a precision dance crew doing a new attraction or coaster-themed routine (2:06 mark to 3:34) maybe with original music from a notable theme park composer, or a well-known acapella group like this or this to do a mashup of memorable member campaigns (like this, this, and this) Blue Man Group would be great too.
Big Finish – Because we know this client loves on-the-nose, a travel-themed exit would look like a deplaning, arrivals to the show floor may include some kind of welcome props like chauffeurs with signs, Hawaiian leis, etc.
Flipping the model of the other two concepts, production design for this would be super simple. No filming for video packages this year. Just using submitted video components for What’s New. Simple but energetic production design, and all focus placed on entertainment and how we can wrap them into everything as presenters, hosts, and hype people. This takes almost all the pressure off the executives to be entertaining.
The show sounds like world music, specifically the rhythms of different continents. African drums, Taiko drums, calypso drums, etc. Again, our custom music could come from Rob Pottorf or another well-known theme park composer.
30 Minutes to Doors and following announcements – We have some of the entertainers working with boxing-esque signs that match the countdown screens.
Seating Announcements - Character MC – African Representative or Indian host (again, we have many wonderful fabulous hosts in Orlando, but perhaps this is a chance to create a personality unique to IAAPA who can reoccur in the future, like “Jenny” did in the past.)
Interactive entertainment would happen as the audience takes their seats, something like this famous mime (as per David’s request for a mime) who uses volunteers OR the actual Cirque Du Soleil Clowns (this could accidentally feel like a circus theme and I worry that may be confusing to attendees) Dancers and singers could also be directing people to available seating. All entertainment would feature customized routines.
Opening Entertainment – the warm-up acts could transition into the opening entertainment act with large, but simple in-crowd atmosphere like flag-bearers
CEO Opening Remarks – the CEO comes out and delivers some crucial info but is then interrupted by our host who will translate the business speak for the audience in a comical way.
Entertainment - Any of the warmup acts could be combined with borrowed parade puppets, many of which have been retired at parks nearby and are brought out for special events. We could also throw in a few more local international acts who do their own thing for twenty to thirty seconds. They all work together in the end. An American representative act could be something like a step team. (This is a huge crowd pleaser and a personal favorite.)
Big Finish – This may look like a parade of constituencies where members are encouraged to pick a mini flag or party favor representing their constituency.
After testing out several ideas, I'll refine the pitch into a PowerPoint presentation with slides like these.