Beware Your Pitch – Dragons’ Den Pitch Ends in Court

A friend forwarded me a link to a recent decision regarding a pitch on Dragons’ Den that resulted in CBC being sued over the airing of the pitch. The judge, in rendering his decision, brought to light some of the issues that some people who appear on the show would be well-advised to pay attention to.

In the suit, the plaintiff claimed that the manner in which he was portrayed on the show was defamatory, and that CBC had breached a contract with him, though the basis for this breach was never specified, one of the reasons for which the case was dismissed.

I remembered the pitch, which aired on January 13, 2010, though I went to check, and could not find the airings of past seasons on their website. In it, the pitch was for the creation of a local currency using poker chips, and the dragons laughed his pitch off the show. The metaphors used were quite colorful, and I can well imagine that being the subject of such derision would not have been a pleasant experience.

The shows, though, are taped in May of the previous year, meaning that 8 months had passed since the incident actually occurred, and perhaps that led the plaintiff into believing that it was all behind him. When the show aired, he was reminded yet again of the ridicule he had faced.

When pitching on Dragons’ Den, entrepreneurs must be aware that the conversation is not being controlled, and that anything can happen. As a result, with the knowledge that the editing crew will be looking for the best entertainment value in the masses of taped pitches to make the final cut, it should come as no surprise that what appears on the show is unlikely to be polite and professional.

Being aware, and in fact planning for this, CBC insists that everyone appearing on the show sign a waiver. This is outlined in the materials sent to each person appearing on the show, along with the intent of CBC in taping the show. That is, CBC is quite open that they will be editing the material heavily for a variety of reasons.

When considering going onto the show, be aware that while you may believe any publicity is good, the way in which your session is edited may result in negative publicity, which is worse than no publicity.