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Pitching Web Series and Points of Parity/Difference

December 26, 2008

NewTeeVee has a good article on tips for pitching web series by guest columnist Jake Zim of Safran Digital Group.

I agree with everything in the post but would add one thing (in addition to Paul’s comment about knowing your audience first). From my experiences, it’s helpful to create a frame of reference by comparing your series/film/TV show to “market leaders” when you’re pitching it. As hokey as it may sound, comparing your show to other hits immediately gives the executive a clear picture of what your show aspires to be.

In marketing, there is a positioning framework used to compare one Brand to another Brand using Points of Parity (how the brands are similar) and Points of Difference (how one brand is superior or unique to the other).

Below is a quick little sketch of how marketers see this positioning framework.

positioning

Using these “points of parity” and “points of differentiation” in a pitch are essentially the same exercise.

Here’s an abbreviation of an example pitch: “It’s a big blockbuster of a film like Jaws… except the monster is on Land….<pause for dramatic effect> Dinosaurs”. The first part of the pitch shows the similarities of the films and conjures up images associated with Jaws – scary, big beast, thriller, special effects, big budget, etc.

The second part of the comparison is the “point of differentiation”, where you imply why your story is unique or better than the competition. E.g., “but the main creature isn’t some shark limited to the water… this creature is on LAND!”

General diagram is below. There’s no need to over-think a pitch. However, the point is, just like in marketing, positioning your story/film against other competition is a good and easy way to illustrate what type of movie you’re going for. People need frame of references, and this is one way to make it easier to get your pitch across.

positioning2

Note: The pitch example above was not Jurassic Park but another movie that was never greenlighted. And the actual pitch was even more simple: “Jaws on land. Dinosaurs.”

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