It's More Than Business

Yesterday, we pitched to defend an account we’ve had for six years. It went incredibly well. To shock all my coworkers and use a sports metaphor, we really “left it all on the field.”  I wouldn’t change a thing.

And today, I’m a total mess.

Of course, there’s the expected work hangover from too many hours in the office and too few in bed that comes with any pitch.

But this one was different. This one was truly personal.


I’m the first to say, “it’s just advertising.” We’re not saving lives. And I’m lucky to work for an agency that values family and work/life balance above all else. But some accounts weave their way into your life so it becomes more than a client you work on. I helped develop a voice for this brand, that, because I was the target, was similar to my own. Several of the umpteen ads we created were directly lifted from personal experiences with my kids. I was willing to share parts of my own life because I believed in the work, the brand, and the people behind it. 

Then there’s the bond that comes with time. Over the past six years, between our close-knit client and agency team, we’ve collectively celebrated or weathered an IPO, three CEOs, five CMO’s, layoffs on both sides, one divorce, two new babies, two engagements, and most recently, the death of my dad. Like a week and a half ago, recently. It wasn’t a shock - my dad had Alzheimer’s and started declining rapidly right when pitch work began. So, when he passed, I was back to work in a day and a half. Not because anyone asked me to, but because I wanted to. The quiet support and love of my team, and the knowledge that I had poured my everything into this account for the past six years made it an easy decision. I wanted to see this through, for myself and for everyone I work with who had given just as much as I had.

My point is this. Pitches suck. Wait, that’s not my point. (But it’s true.)

My real point is, most creatives are natural empaths. We feel all the things, for better or worse. We think with our hearts first, then our minds. That’s how we’re able to come up with ideas, over and over, that connect with people. This makes us passionate, hugely loyal, and emotionally vested. Sure, we have to learn to separate and let stuff go. But to us, it’s more than just a job. We’re putting a little piece of ourselves into everything we create.

I don’t know how this pitch will turn out. Of course, I hope we win. What I do know is, I had tears in my eyes yesterday listening to our founder give his heartfelt closing remarks. Because I know every one of us gave our all, and we’ll be there for each other, regardless. 

So, for the clients out there who think “it’s just business” I want to tell you, on behalf of all the agencies putting their hearts and souls into what they create for you, it’s way more than that. And if you find an agency partner who gives you this level of devotion, don’t let them go. Because you’re going to get far more than anything that can ever be stated in a contract.