Toby Roberts & Joyce Kremer (JWT London) during the Jonge Honden’s 24 Hour ‘Bever’ Pitch.

Simply put, the Jonge Honden 24 hour pitch is one of the most brilliantly insane experiences for young advertising creatives. With little time to prepare and even less to figure out what we had gotten ourselves into, we packed our bags and headed from London to Amsterdam. Web based research of the previous years lead us to believe that this would be no ordinary pitch. This proved to be correct.

We arrived at the Olympic stadium at 6pm for a briefing. As a non Dutch speaker taking it in proved challenging. However, when GPS navigators, fire lighters and walking shoes were introduced, it soon became apparent what the plan was. The client, Bever, specialises in everything ‘outdoors’, obviously a world away from the fancy coffee machines and iMacs of modern day advertising. Consequently, the pitch revolved around the idea ‘back to basics’. No computers, no internet, just good old-fashioned sketchbooks and scamps. Oh, and a nice healthy dose of the great outdoors in the form of a 40Km trek.

A world away from the fancy coffee machines and iMacs of modern day advertising

With the briefing completed, we set off in teams into the woods, to discuss initial thoughts on the project, and work out where we it was we were meant to be going. Each team was armed with, among other things, a GPS navigator, and a set of coordinates, forming checkpoints for the journey. At the first of these, after a few hours strolling through the forest, we were challenged to test our survival skills and light a campfire using our shiny new fire sticks – available at your nearest Bever, of course. With the fires lit, (turns out a layout pad is quite flammable) we set off on bikes for Haarlem.

24 Hour pitch

Teams who lit their fires quickly were richly rewarded with a tandem, whilst the slower half had to make do with a single bike between two. After a few hours of precarious night cycling, we got a chance to take a look around one of the Bever stores.  After some brain storming in one of the changing rooms, we made our way to a campsite for late night reviews with the old dogs, and the chance of a cheeky power nap in a €10,000 tent.

The following morning, we traded down our tandem for a single bike, which proved quite the challenge as an English man who has never cycled the ‘Dutch’ way before. We headed to the beach, where breakfast was served, and final ideas scamped up ready to present. Before we had chance to blink, time was almost up and the deadline adrenaline had kicked in.

24 Hour Pitch Tents

Apart from being a mad fun 24 hours and a great chance to make some new friends, there were a ton of valuable lessons we took away from the pitch.

Firstly the importance of immersing yourself in the world of any brand you are working on. If you find yourself working on a brief for a camping store, it turns out a spot of ‘light’ camping gets the creative juices flowing a treat.

Secondly, the amount you can get done in 24 hours when you really want to, even when balancing map reading with note taking, is phenomenal. If you can present an idea, sleep deprived at 5am in the back of someone’s car and make sense of it, you can present an idea anywhere. A late night at the office now feels (ironically) like a stroll in the park.

If you can present an idea, sleep deprived at 5am in the back of someone’s car and make sense of it, you can present an idea anywhere

Finally, computers are rubbish. They should be banned from any area where people are really trying to think creatively. It is so easy in the office to turn to the computer for a quick fix of procrastination or ‘research.’ It can be much harder to avoid the screen and just sit down with a pen and paper. Having taken part in this years ‘back to basics’ 24 hour pitch, and seen the quality of work produced away from the screen. It is very clear which of the two is more beneficial.