Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa pitchman off to Cannes to prove he's 'greatest' salesman

Call me thick as a brick, but Tampa's Eric Polins stands on the edge of greatness. He's six days away from competing in Cannes, France, for "World's Greatest Salesperson," having out pitched nearly 230 global competitors for a finalist shot at the title offered up by giant New York advertising icon OgilvyOne Worldwide.

And to what does Polins owe his success thus far? Selling a lowly red brick. More on that in a moment.

Salesmanship gets a bad rap. Without it, commerce stalls. The economy grinds to a halt. Capitalism collapses. Truly great salesmanship, mastering the art of persuasion, is a dwindling art. That's why OgilvyOne created this contest. It hopes Monday's winner, chosen instantly by a text-messaging theater full of marketing execs, will help the ad firm redefine the skills of selling in the 21st century.

Polins, the 41-year-old co-founder and managing partner of Tampa marketing consultants HCP Associates, learned about the "Search for the World's Greatest Salesperson" contest, a YouTube video competition, while browsing Facebook.

"If you think you have what it takes to sell a common, ordinary brick, then OgilvyOne Worldwide has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you," the contest promised. In addition to an all-expenses trip for three finalists to compete in Cannes at the world's biggest advertising convention, the winner gets a three-month fellowship with OgilvyOne "to rearticulate" sales lessons espoused by David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy is considered the "father of advertising" and was a founder of the famous 20th century advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. That has now become OgilvyOne, which says it is on a mission "to reinvigorate the noble art of salesmanship."

Talk about Mission Impossible. How do you sell a plain red brick in a two-minute YouTube video with greater passion and cleverness than 229 global competitors? Polins decided to sell the brick for its intangible asset: as a globally available and affordable good luck charm. In the video, he compares his red brick to, among other outdated good luck charms, a rabbit's foot ("too morbid"), a "knock on wood" gesture ("is anything made of wood any more?") and a four-leaf clover ("I live in the city," he says).

It's a smooth, tongue-in-cheek delivery by Polins, who also writes, produces and acts in films on the side (he sits on the board of the Gasparilla International Film Festival). The Penn State broadcast and journalism graduate says he left TV news because he was too nervous in front of a camera. Now he's used to it, as the YouTube brick pitch attests, and as Polins deadpans: "I do not throw up any more before going on camera."

The competition is tough. The Canadian finalist pitches the brick in his video as not just a building block but "representing a dream" of great things. And the Japanese finalist reinvents the brick (with chrome handles) as a must-have purse that works better against muggers than Mace.

If Polins wins in Cannes, he'll use his OgilvyOne fellowship to find ways to bridge the big ad gap between how basic and high-end goods are sold. And somewhere along the line, he'll probably add "World's Greatest Salesperson" to his resume.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

Fast facts

So, are you sold?

The winning video submissions by Polins and two other finalists can be viewed at links.tampabay.com.

Tampa pitchman off to Cannes to prove he's 'greatest' salesman 06/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]