The Apprentice has reached week 9, and the pressure is really on. Sir Alan brings on the TV Ad task where the teams have to design a campaign to launch a new brand of tissues on an unsuspecting nation. Oh and just to make things funnier he juggles the teams around a bit more. Raef ends up as one project manager and Alex as the other.
The brief is to create a mini drama that sells the a box of tissues. The two teams get to work with leading Ad design company, Ogilvy. (See my review of the predictions David Ogilvy made in his book: Ogilvy on Advertising for advertising.)
Apprentice Spielberg’s Can Rest Easy
Now we know that Michael has this chameleon-like ability to adapt who he is to who he’s with. So I keep noticing him being “uber charming” and “best buddies” with people. In particular in this task he “bonds” with Raef. And he sings a bit of his starring role as Fagin in an amateur production of the musical Oliver!
The team spend a huge amount of time devising a “story” that they plan to film, as they believe Sir Alan requested. Very late in the day they decide to make up a name for the tissues. And yet, if they’d had a name first the actual shoot plan could have been easier to build.
Helene and Claire get the really easy job of designing the tissue box and the print advert. Raef decides he and Michael will direct and “edit” the TV Ad. The box is designed and printed and delivered to the team. It’s a very subtle job, which is not what Sir Alan is looking for. Plus the name is plain stupid – “I love my tissues.” Who would say that about some paper tissues?
Worryingly Raef loses the plot in his excitement to do “acting/directing”, which appears to be a great love. He decides to get Sian Lloyd in to work in the advert. Obviously there must be something weather-related, you’d think. No, Raef just want Sian Lloyd because he thinks she’s got a wholesome image. However, he should have thought what his target market would think of her. As it turns out the advert has to run for 30 seconds and Sian’s little bit in the ad nearly shrinks to nothing at all.
Interestingly for an advert that’s meant to be selling tissues the boys hadn’t really set-up any good uses of the tissue and views of the box. So the net result of the ad is that tissues aren’t mentioned and even the graphic at then of the ad doesn’t make clear it’s selling tissues, or highlight the aspect that makes the tissues different.
Claire and Helene do their press ad, which doesn’t trumpet the value of their tissues. Instead the headline says, “This is the start of a beautiful relationship” and shows a picture of the girl and boy from the TV ad. Totally meaningless. Complete gibberish and if I was the manufacturer of the tissues I’d be unhappy because that ad would not attract anyone to buy the tissues.
Claire and Helene visit the boys to see how the ad is coming along. Claire makes the point that there’s pretty much little or nothing about tissues in the ad. But doesn’t really push it, nor can she as the boys have pretty much no time to do much else than shorten the ad. What she and Helene should have done is watched the initial footage and helped with their different viewpoints. Particularly as the boys would have had time to do more product shots, or included them as a graphic more.
The following day the team presents the TV and print ads to a larger than expected audience consisting of 3 agency heads, assorted other people and Sir Alan himself.
Claire presents the pitch confidently, having previously taken the credit for creating a campaign while the boys were playing at being film directors.
Lucinda’s Creative Streak Used To Find A Location
Alex, Lee and Lucinda gather together to come up with a brand for their tissues. After a few wild ideas Lee comes up with a great name ATISHU. Which I immediately thought was a great name and would win, provided their advert showed the product working and delivered the real message: Buy our Tissues!
Then it’s down to finding a location to shoot the advert and getting into the creative side of things with designing the tissue box. Lucinda immediately stakes her claim as she has a creative streak – well she would with those amazing berets. And so Alex uses her by sending her to find a nice place to shoot the advert.
Later in the taxi Lucinda frustratedly attempts to tell the lads that what they’ve done with the creative side is rubbish. Lee, forgetting the initial request by Lucinda to do the creative stuff, tells her she should have said she wanted to do the creative side before they started! Poor Lucinda, it’s be enough to make you want to grind your teeth down to stumps.
The following day Lucinda and Alex distract Lee with good points to make while he’s trying to sort out and practise his presentation. The result is that Lee struggles to present well when they meet the audience. He stammers and pauses during his pitch.
And although the advert they present is wooden, stilted and basically rubbish they get across the tissue name prominently and also mention that they’re anti-bacterial – exactly what was required.
The Apprentice Film-makers Clash In The Boardroom
Before going into the boardroom Claire notes that, “This task shows the example of the phrase ‘behind every successful man there’s a woman'”. She says that really she and Helene had pushed Raef and Michael and had really created the campaign.
Alex claims that Lucinda was “borderline upsetting.” Then an argument resumes where Lee suggests Lucinda should have told Alex, blah, blah – a road Lucinda had already been down.
When asked about Alex’s ad Raef says that it’s not subtle enough. Dryly Sir Alan suggests that he’d rather move tissues. He also notes Raef’s Ad has lost because it doesn’t show anything to do with the tissues.
So Raef brings Claire and Michael in to face the firing squad. Michael, or Slippery Sophocles, claims that the whole TV ad was directed, filmed and edited by him and all that was good was put in by him.
Claire was also pulled up about not telling the team much more strongly that the tissues weren’t in evidence. So she trots out a phrase that she’s used before, something along the lines of “I could see they were passionate about it and put a load of hard work into it.” Sorry Claire that doesn’t wash I bet if you were project manager you’d want it right, no matter how passionate someone was about doing it wrong!
Finally Sir Alan fires Raef as being a bag of wind, or full of hot air.
When Michael returns from the boardroom he’s asked for what happened and he says, “nothing happened much, except that Raef’s gone.” Then he adds “it was very, very upsetting for me as he was a good friend of mine and it was a difficult ordeal for me.”
Now that attitude (and I know the editors purposefully put it in) clearly shows someone who wants to win at all costs, regardless of who he kicks on the way up.
Was The Firing Fair
Obviously Sir Alan bases his decisions on what he’s told by Nick and Margaret and what is said during the mammoth and lengthy boardroom sessions. Much of that is edited out so his decisions now are based on a lot of interaction with the remaining candidates.
That said I would have fired Michael, he took all the credit for the TV Ad, so he should have put the product in more. Therefore as he didn’t he should have been fired. More than that though it’s because he takes credit for a number of things and was involved in shady stuff with Agent Orange to try and bring the other team down in Marrakesh.
Remember Raef ran the laundry task pretty well and was instrumental in the teams he was in winning tasks, for example the wedding dress task. So I would have kept Raef over Michael.
The thing is there’s less places to hide now so the weak will be horribly exposed. And I suspect that’s going to be Helene and Michael.
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