Posted on 10.12.15
In this week’s tenuous link, the candidates were whisked off to the Olympic swimming pool in Stratford where the task was announced. Organise a new Olympic Games? Design an ultra-modern swimsuit to be tested by Lord Sugar at the end of the task? Alas no, it was to create a new healthy snack, of course, where the candidates would once again be making a food item and marketing it to three major retailers.
Team Connexus, consisting of Brett, Richard and Vana, started off with their confidence brimming: “we’re the best”, “we’re gunna win” and then rather unceremoniously deciding that Team Versatilie were on a more “scrotty level” whereas they were more of a “professional” standard. Task all sewn up then.
First job was to decide the project managers, which is also more often than not tenuously decided. Charleine declared she eats snack bars – project manager it is. Brett has “always done protein shakes” – they’d be daft not to choose him then, despite Richard owning his own marketing business.
Next up was to decide what kind of food they would be producing and showcasing to the retailers. Connexus decided to go down the healthy crisp root in a bid to challenge the kettle crisps of the world. To make their crisps healthy, they would be dehydrated, raw, gluten-free and vegan. Lots of selling points to go off, but it would be important for the crisps to be at least palatable for anyone to buy them. Versatile on the other hand went for more of an energy bar format as Joseph kindly pointed out, “energy is good for you.” They would go down the superfood craze, which although not exactly new to the market, could also work well.
In the healthy crisp kitchen project manager Brett was kindly demoted to third in line behind “King Richard” and “Princess Vana” as Claude put it. Whilst he was hard at work taking orders off Vana, Brett also picked up an Amercian twang in his pronunciation of “to-may-toe”.
Whilst Vana was glugging in the olive oil, Charleine was chucking any ingredient she could find into the mix. This clever move did not help Gary and Joseph in the branding team who were scratching around for any information to help them with the packaging. It’s fair to say as Charleine was barraging mis-pronounced ingredient names and ‘quantities’ down the phone at a rate of knots, Gary and Joseph picked up next to nothing useful in terms of slogans and healthy food claims. A big spin job would be on the cards for the pitchers.
Lined up for the next day were a series of sales pitches to the major retailers, or as Brett might say, ‘the supercharged verbalisation of the vital data sector knowledge in our market arena in relation to the established vendor participants’. Although these weren’t exactly Brett’s words, they could easily have been. His pitch to Virgin Active was stuffed full of mumbo-jumbo nonsense: “calibration to the ratios” and “the pitcture of the vegetable iconifies the fact that it is not cooked”, to name just two.
Charleine and Gary’s pitched wasn’t exactly an overwhelming success either. Holland and Barrett, not the most novice of healthy food retailers, did not let much slip past them and look fairly annoyed at Charleine trying to pass her product off as a superfood when in fact it only contained 3% of the stuff! They also said the product was extremely dry, as it seems was the pitch. Afterwards Charleine said they weren’t keen on the name, packaging or product – not many straws left to grasp at.
For their next pitch, Joseph was back from his testing the product on the street and the team were all fired up to be “very, very positive” after their disastrous first pitch. Charleine started off well and set up Joseph nicely to deliver some fantastic consumer feedback, which was met with the most unenthusiastic, downbeat “eeerrrrrmmmmmmmm” we’ve heard so far.
A couple more uninspiring pitches later and the candidates were back in the boardroom. It was another Apprentice first: absolutely no orders were made by any of the retailers for both teams! At least Lord Sugar’s one line writers were in fine form describing Versatile’s bar as looking like “a sample of soil from Chernobyl” with as much information on the packaging as a “North Korean tour guide”.
On the other team, Richard didn’t get off lightly for his omission of their products key selling points, which from a marketing perspective really should have been on there. I thought the packaging and ‘V’ symbol did look stylish and attractive, but the oil-sodden crisps were undersold with stating that they were dehydrated, vegan, gluten-free etc. This is what would have made them attractive to their target market: healthy snackers. Ever stubborn Richard stood by his decision, deciding to live and die by the sword; this week he would live.
After a rather tame boardroom gathering, it was the turn of Brett to leave the process, leaving however, “as an honourable man”.