PITCH: David Abbott/BT.

“Hey Dave, I’ve got something you might want to share on your blog.
It’s 30 minutes of David Abbott pitching the famous BT Bob Hoskins campaign, direct to camera, apparently for some BT big-wigs who missed the original presentation.
Not only is it a lovely piece of advertising history, it’s also a masterclass for any creative about to step into pitching.
I found it when I was at AMV and had to present a re-pitch for the entire BT account. Frankly I was shitting myself, and I can’t tell you how much this helped.
You’re watching probably the world’s greatest copywriter, presenting what became one of the era’s best-loved campaigns, to what was then Britain’s biggest client.
No fuss, no gimmicks, no mega-bucks mood-films. Not even that many executions of the ads.
I love the quiet authority and the modesty that almost completely disguises the salesmanship laced all the way through.
Anyway, it’s been sitting in my bottom drawer for over a decade. I’ve no idea if any other copies have survived, so hopefully this one can become another lasting tribute to the great man.

Thanks for lugging this DVD around for a decade Markham, and thanks for sending it to me, I wouldn’t mind betting that AMV/BBDO don’t even have a copy of this.

This was my favourite from the campaign that followed.

P.s. A big thanks to the good folks at Tenthree, they kindly converted the DVD from some antiquated, last century format into the splendour that you see before you today. 

41 responses to PITCH: David Abbott/BT.

  1. Emmanuel Amankwah says:

    Dave! This is treasure. Thanks for sharing 🙌🏾

  2. Julian Calderara says:

    What a treat. Particularly for someone who never met him…
    Putting aside his amazing reputation (which we have all grown up admiring) what I find most brilliant is the way he connects everything he says with the clear business objectives in the client’s brief. As such his modest and ‘plain English’ observations just seem like common sense. In a very John Lewis way (we seek to help and advise), he doesn’t presume to know what his audience might or should think.
    Effortless persuasion like this takes talent and a lot of effort…
    We could do with some politicians who could be so persuasive.
    Well done for sharing this.

  3. Alan Grové says:

    Thanks Dave (and David). A masterclass as always. When I first started working and I used to get stuck on a piece of writing I always turned to that D&AD spread with his Volvo ads for inspiration/ a kick up the arse (controversial, but the I always liked the one where he compared a Volvo and a Ferrari more than the famous Welds). The greatest to ever do it. 🙌🏼

  4. Mike Griffin says:

    Well done Dave.Just shows the brilliance of the man.I’m honoured to have worked for him for 12 years.No one has ever got near him.A great loss.

    • dave dye says:

      Hey Mike,
      Good to hear from you. (There last night?).
      I told Richard Foster your story of meeting David in the pub and ‘ordering a Pina Colada’ in the last podcast.

  5. Alan Brydon says:

    I was in the media department at AMV and bought the campaign. For ‘frustrating’ we prioritised loud programmes (eg Cilla’s Blind Date) and bought first ad in break to maximise the impact of the silence. (No sponsorships back then). It was the privilege of my life to spend 15 years observing David.

    • dave dye says:

      Love that Alan. Too often Media is reduced to ‘the most for the least’. Dx

  6. Louis-Hugo Marchand says:

    Hi Dave – just heard about this and came to check it out. Are the videos still running ok or did they get pulled? They won’t play for some reason. Love your podcast by the way. Cheers!

    • dave dye says:

      Hey Hugo, I just tried it, it worked for me, it won’t play for some people, no idea why? Thanks by the way. Dx

      • Louis-Hugo Marchand says:

        Working now! Advice to your other visitors: just reboot and try again! Amazing content!

  7. Lyle Shemer says:

    So much to love about him. I will always cherish the memory of having met him at the Clios when he received his lifetime achievement award. One of the smartest, kindest humans to have ever worked in this racket.

  8. Lee Trott says:

    Fantastic, thanks for sharing Dave. I was also marvelling at the Metro headline four or five days ago when Theresa May and Corbyn were about to begin discussions on Brexit and the metro said ITS GOOD TO TALK…. Even 20 year after it ran, it’s still relevant, and a part of pop culture.

  9. Kevin MacNamara says:

    Seeing this is the biggest stroke of luck I’ve had all year. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  10. Dawn says:

    Sometimes I wonder why I came into this business. This is why. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Steve Loftus says:

    Great find Markham, thanks for sharing Dave. Loved it.

    • Stevie Rooney says:

      Reminds me why I loved working in advertising back then. Beautiful and crafted. As was the work that followed.

  12. george says:

    I’ve tried to get people to watch it where I work.
    Unfortunately, half of the industry doesn’t have an attention span.
    And the other half doesn’t know who David Abbott is.

    • dave dye says:

      Hey George,
      That’s a shame, is it now the equivalent of some old duffer trying to get us to watch a video of the great Rosser Reeves?
      (Probably not video…Umatic?…No…probably read his typed up notes for a talk?
      Well, it’s there for the geeky ones to watch, and in my experience the geeky ones tend to end up as the good ones.

  13. Paul Campion says:

    Hi Dave, hope you’re well. I stumbled across this by accident. So glad I did. What a great man. He’s the reason I joined advertising. So it’s his fault!


  14. Andrew says:

    Hello. The mp4 doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I was telling a colleague about how good this pitch was, tried to share, but the link doesn’t seem to work…

    • dave dye says:

      Hey Andrew, I just tried it and it worked for me? Give it another go and let me know how you get on, maybe it was a network issue. Dx

  15. middleton says:

    Dave this was like a breath of fresh air. Layer upon layer of rationale and emotional insights all delivered with wit, humility and effortless charm. That’s totally got me thinking how I could be better at presenting. Or what to look for to help build a bullet-proof argument. Happy Friday and thanks. Paul

    • dave dye says:

      Damn! I read that before I knew what post you were talking about.
      I thought you were talking about my wit, charm and layer upon layer of rationale and emotional insights.
      But, yes, kind of amazing in that it feels un-spectacular, normal, obvious, like common sense.
      But it’s rare.
      I defy anyone who watches it through to not want to give him their business.

  16. Many thanks for sharing, Dave. What an incredible insight. A real treat to see the great man at work. Very best wishes, Trevor.

  17. Matthew Osborne says:

    Amazing and incredible, thank you for sharing!

    Do you have the second part with Jackie Boulter? – it would be equally as great an insight into the strategy department.

    • dave dye says:

      No Matthew, but if anyone out there has it, do get in touch. Dx

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