EVANSVILLE, Ind. - As Evansville-based ad agency Daniel Burton Dean prepared to work on a recent campaign for Gibson Brands, Phil Mowrey gave his staff an important instruction: Don’t say anything negative. Nothing at all.
Why such a specific and strict admonishment? Because on this project Daniel Burton Dean would be opening itself to a level of scrutiny unlike anything it had experienced before.
The agency, and its work for Gibson, will be featured on an upcoming episode of “The Pitch,” an ad-themed reality television show on AMC. Each episode of the show features two ad agencies that create a campaign and compete for a client’s business. In Daniel Burton Dean’s episode, which airs at 10 p.m. Sept. 19, the Evansville agency competes against Nashville-based Powell Creative in an attempt to win Gibson’s business. Nashville-based Gibson is well-known for its guitars, but it’s expanding into home-electronic sound equipment and that line was the focus of the agencies’ pitches.
Daniel Burton Dean also has an office in Nashville. In total, nine agency employees worked on the Gibson project — six from Nashville, and three from Evansville.
Domini Hofmann, executive producer of “The Pitch,” said once the show had settled on Nashville as an episode location, they started considering local advertising agencies to cast.
Once she made contact with Daniel Burton Dean, Hofmann said, she knew she’d found something good.
“I knew right away when I saw them ... that they would be great for the show.”
Hofmann said she liked the firm’s family dynamics — Mowrey’s sister, Jodie Lynn, handles research and digital media at the firm, and his son, David Wright, is a creative manager.
For its part, Daniel Burton Dean wasn’t so certain.
Mowry was skeptical about how the firm might come across in the context of a reality television show.
“Phil said, ‘I do not want to be the next Honey Boo-Boo,’” Lynn said with a laugh, referencing a different reality show about a child beauty pageant contestant.
Based in part on AMC’s reputation for quality programming, Mowry said, Daniel Burton Dean decided to participate.
Mowry knew that during filming the producers might push for drama and controversy — angry blowups between co-workers, for instance, or backbiting comments.
That’s why he instituted the “no negative comments” rule during filming. The firm’s goal, Mowry said, was to come across as an agency that clients would want to hire.
“They had an agenda — and so did we,” Mowry said.
So don’t look for much drama and conflict in Daniel Burton Dean’s segments, Mowry said.
That’s not to say, though, that the project lacked intensity.
In real life, Mowry said, it would take about three months to put together an ad campaign. For the show, everything happened in 11 days. That meant work days lasted up to 18 hours, with only one half-day off during the process. Filming took place in January and February.
The film crew didn’t just capture Daniel Burton Dean at work — they also shot some scenes outside of the workplace environment.
Wright joked that he’s wondering how he’ll come across in some of those off-the-clock scenes.
“They filmed a lot of me talking to my cat (at home), so I’m kind of nervous about that,” he said with a laugh.
The parties involved in the project are sworn to secrecy about the show’s outcome, and Daniel Burton Dean has not seen an advance copy of the episode.
Even without having seen the episode, Mowry said the project was worth the effort, and the firm has already experienced a bump from the publicity.
Because of the exposure (Advertising Age and other publications have written about the show) Daniel Burton Dean has already picked up some new clients, he said, and it has received queries from potential vendors and job seekers.
So what does the firm expect to see in its episode?
“I’m confident there will be two or three things we’ll regret, but I don’t think we’ll regret the whole experience,” Mowry said.