Pitching through a pandemic.

July 15, 2020 Lawrence O'Toole

This past February our agency, Full Contact, decided to pitch the Massachusetts State Lottery. A few short weeks later, the world changed. We were hell-bent to make the most of the pitch process anyway.

On Thursday, March 12th we organized a small in-house video shoot at our agency to help bring our pitch ideas to life. We didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the second to last day anyone would be willing to venture out in the downtown Boston area for three months. It was great that we finished the shoot, but that Monday our doors were closed. The pandemic had arrived here, and we didn’t know how, or if, we could finish all the work we just shot.

On Tuesday, I got a phone call from Full Contact’s founding partner Marty Donohue who asked, “do you think we can finish this from home?”. What he was really asking was, do you think we can finish this pitch remotely and still have it be great? At that point, we had strategy, media, and creative in various forms. We just had to figure out how to bring them all together without physically being together.

We had to remain open to figuring it all out – despite our closed doors and despite the fear and chaos of a global pandemic. It was going to be a huge change, and we had to be proactive about adapting to it. But also, we didn’t have a choice. We had already invested so much in the client and the ideas – there was no going back. And now, the clock was running out.

If there was any reassurance during those final weeks leading up to the pitch, it came from having been in this situation before. Sort of. It was never anything like navigating a pandemic, but over the years we’ve always challenged ourselves to figure it out. Take what we have and find a way to make it great. When you’re limited, it’s an incredibly uncomfortable thing to put yourself through – until you do it so much that you become good at it. Then, eventually, it becomes an asset.

Getting through that pitch was uncomfortable, and at times, overwhelming. Several of us on that pitch team have kids, but I’m not sure any of us were more overwhelmed or uncomfortable than our Senior Art Director, Ellie Fusco. Imagine being in the middle of a pregnancy, in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a pitch. Or as comedian Jim Gaffigan jokes about having a fourth child; “Imagine you’re drowning… and then someone hands you a baby.”

The idea of finishing the pitch remotely was daunting enough. But there was Ellie, working through the weekends, working until 2 and 3am, night after night. She was drowning in pitch work. Now add to that the existential layer of bringing a child into this new world of dangerous uncertainty. That’s no joke. That’s beyond remaining open. Or figuring it out. That’s straight-up relentless. Witnessing her do that was an inspiring reminder of what we’re all capable of.

So, as everything around us came to a grinding halt, we worked tirelessly. By the end of March, Marty had delivered the physical copies of our final presentation and the pitch meeting was held shortly thereafter as a Zoom call – a first for everyone. The presentation went better than rehearsed and when it was done, virtual drinks.

We felt confident about the work, but we felt even better about how we found a way to get it done and make it great. That’s how it goes – the more effort you put in with the time and resources you have, the better you feel about it. That’s a big part of what it means to go Full Contact. And when you do it, like Ellie did, you have no regrets because you feel it in your gut; you made the full effort.

Or is that the baby kicking?

Either way, we’re really excited to work with our newest client and we can’t wait to meet the newest member of the Full Contact family.


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