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Q&A – John Fuller, Partner / President of Kovel/Fuller (The Pitch)


In Episode 5 of The Pitch, John Fuller, Partner/President of Kovel/Fuller, speaks with about the benefits of hiring people from outside advertising, and the most outrageous thing he’s ever done to win an account.

Q: How did Kovel/Fuller become involved with The Pitch?

A: My partner Lee (Kovel) is personal friends with Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. She knew one of the producers [of The Pitch] and vouched for their integrity. So we met with them and agreed to do it.

Q: Did being on camera have any affect on the way your team works?

A: There was a lot less cursing. [Laughs]

Q: Many senior people on your team have never been in advertising before. What kind of benefits does that give your agency?

A: Well, we’re able to pay them a lot less. [Laughs] No, just kidding. The biggest problem in advertising is that everyone who comes up through the agency ranks tends to think as an advertising agency person. So often your solutions to problems are limited to your frame of reference. People that come in from other disciplines and have done well in those other disciplines, they’re able to bring in a whole different perspective into the problem-solving. And I think clients realize it’s a new way of thinking and they appreciate it.

VIDEO: Why Kovel/Fuller Won

Q: This was Mary’s “rookie” presentation and, as you put it, she “hit a home run.” What made you decide to put her in the lead?

A: We never hire people that we don’t think can hit home runs. So we knew that Mary had it in her. We just had to put her up at bat and let her swing.

Q: What did you guys do to celebrate the Frangelico account?

A: We did something that we hadn’t been able to do since a week-and-half prior [to shooting]. We let them go home at 5:30pm and we didn’t make them come in on Saturday and Sunday… And we had a little bit of a celebration where people could have a shot of Frangelico — it’s actually very good neat. But we didn’t have a big drunken sprawl because that’s not what landing liquor accounts is all about.

Q: What are the benefits of landing a liquor account?

A: In the agency business you want to have clients in categories that spend money. In the liquor category, image means a lot… Advertising is very important to craft how people think about liquor. Once you get into a category like alcohol, the more experience you gain in crafting that image will make you more attractive to other alcohol clients. Then, hopefully, they’ll approach us and ask us to do advertising for them as well.

Q: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done to land an account?

A: By far the most outrageous thing we’ve every done is pitch an account in a week and a half while cameras followed us around. There was many times during the process I thought “This is crazy. Why did we do this?” [Laughs]

Q: Any lessons learned from shooting the show?

A: First, virtually every person who worked on the pitch stepped up and did a far better job than I think they or anybody else expected them to. I think that indicates that despite the pressure, if you have good people, you’ll get good results. The other thing from shooting the show… you realize the power of what you’re saying. What you say in one sentence might be totally misconstrued if it’s not in the context of the sentence before and after it. I think in life you want to make sure that when you’re speaking to people that you’re clearly and concisely communicating… because you can say something that nobody will ever forget and that can be a good thing or a really bad thing.

Read an interview with Steven Crutchfield, Senior Copywriter at The Ad Store, the other ad agency in this week’s episode of The Pitch.

Don’t miss a new episode of The Pitch this Sunday at 11/10c on AMC.

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