Posted on 16.10.15
Episode two of The Apprentice saw this year’s rabble tasked with marketing a new shampoo product. Lord Sugar mixed the teams up so we had the boys – Team Versatile – vs the girls – Team Connexus.
In a prickly challenge, the teams had to create a marketing campaign around a cactus-based shampoo, one containing the so-called sublime beauty qualities of cactus seed oil. Simply, whichever team marketed the product the worst, according to the views from the experts who witnessed the pitches, would lose the task.
As usual, the task started with a brainstorming session at which some interesting ideas were banded around. Both teams hit on slightly different strands of a desert theme. The boys came up with “manly moist” and “quite deserty” aimed at an adult male target audience before settling on the name “Western”, which I thought was actually quite clever.
The girls had a bit more of a turbulent time, which wasn’t helped by project manager Aisha announcing straight away that anyone who didn’t pull their weight would be back in the boardroom: what a cheery way to get everyone motivated. They decided to target the “grey pound” aiming for women over 45. I’m not sure many women aged 45 would be too pleased with that. They also came up with the rather cheap sounding sleazy name of “Desert Secret”. Not so clever.
Next up were the digital billboard adverts. After settling on a target audience of 45, the girls then went and booked a couple of 20-something year old models! Some thought this was a good idea (!) but it was eventually down to team member Ruth to step up into the model shoes. She did a good job, although with the ‘sshhh’ sign being a predominant feature of the ad, many wondered how many people she had buried under the patio.
Team Versatile hired a male model to wash his hair in a bin. It wasn’t actually as bad as that, but just consisted of a man with lots of shampoo running down his face. At least the audience would know what the billboard is advertising!
Then the big one: the pitches. It’s the part people either try to shirk or step up to the plate as self-proclaimed experts. This week, both teams had a rather delusional self-proclaimed expert; confidence is good, but too much brashness isn’t.
On Team Connexus corporate account manager Natalie decides to take the lead. “Good morning everyone, we’re delighted to be here today,” she divulges with the sincerest tone of a convicted prisoner shipped over to Alcatraz. She then follows this with a series of enigmatic pauses for effect which had more mystery than the famous cactus neighbour, Area 51. The boys were possibly even worse when Scott had a complete mind-blank.
Back in the boardroom it was time for judgment: the boys were head and shoulders above the girls. Aisha was obsessed with the fact another member of their team had chosen the wrong target demographic. She was missing the point entirely. It didn’t really matter who the target market was, as along as the marketing campaign was set up to deal with them head on in a clear, consistent manner.
The boys made the right choices along the way, but they did have two marketing experts in their team. Their campaign was very clean cut, recognisable and with a constant campaign message, which is perhaps the most important aspect. Their logo was sleek, with a cactus forming the ‘T’ of Western to reinforce the shampoo’s unique selling point. The girls opted for a rather flimsy looking bottle design with a picture of the famous cactus flower. No, I didn’t know what a cactus flower looked like either.
Ultimately the girls brand was confused and lacked inspiration. The project manager didn’t understand how to market towards their chosen audience and went for a patronising rather boring approach. It was summed up when pitcher, Natalie, said that 45+ women are “scared of something new”, much to the disgust of 46 year old Karen Brady. It made for good comedy value, but it was a classic case of underestimating an ‘older’ audience, which ended up with the project manager being unceremoniously fired.
We’ll be reviewing the next task which will be aired on Wednesday, so make sure you visit our blog on Thursday.