20/12/2010

Apparently, blue is gay...

Some b’stard on Twitter stole my line. Admittedly, I noticed his was already there when I posted mine: ‘No more Stella for Chris’. his was better – so I stole it back: 'Chris will never drink Stella again'…so well done @timpricebowen who, to add insult to injury, appears to be doing something worthy for charity (whilst I sit on my ar*e drinking red wine. Embarrassed? Whilst I should be… NOT).  Then I decided I shouldn’t use it on principle. What all that has to do with the fact that I had to dig my car out of the snow it was covered in this morning, before deciding to take the bus instead, is anybody’s guess… 

Back to the plot, the finalists had to: create a new alcoholic drink, aimed at the over 25’s; cost approx £20; design bottle and create a marketing campaign. Cut to the Langham where a subset of the original 16 candidates were invited back to help out (or hinder, depending upon your point of view).  Surprisingly, Stuart Baggs ‘The Brand’ wasn’t part of the contingent, can’t think why…. Paloma, got picked last, like the kid who isn’t great at sport that no-one REALLY wants on their team. Unphased, she continued to look evil, but inexplicably beautiful at the same time.  Stella’s team, who she picked (just so we’re clear, no one forced her, she chose them..), comprised of Lookey-Likely (Melissa), Paloma, Joanna and Army guy (Chris Farrell). You had to wonder on that basis whether she was as committed to winning as she claimed to be….

Cut to the Brainstorming session where Alex the unemployed communications manager, (who apparently is now employed), in a shock departure from script, said some sensible stuff… On that basis, Chris’s team decided upon a rum based cocktail that had pomegranate and lime (I think).

Stella opted for a bourbon based drink that (as it turns out), is completely on trend and incorporated honey and spice. It sounds uncannily similar to Southern Comfort which is, in my opinion, over proof medicine whose target market, (albeit subliminally) is teenagers. Teenagers who are desperate to get drunk but unable to stand the taste of real alcohol, so go for max sugar. Bleurgh.  Stella and co struggled with a brand name and tag line until pretty much the 11th hour, when they settled on ‘Urbon” because it rhymes with Bourbon and is hip and trendy, (I was hating it already by this point….) It was however a marked improvement on some of their previous ideas. Blue bourbon??? "Blue is happy" said Joanna, "You're happy when you're blue....blue is gay," Fortunately, they decided to nix the colour idea....(That said their finished product looked like a bottle of cloudy urine, so perhaps the blue wasn’t such a bad idea after all).

Chris decided to go for a frosted glass bottle, as all the ‘classy drinks' (in the one off licence he went to) had frosted bottles. His initial product name was ‘cubed’: “Do you mean cubed as in squared?” asked the off licence guy, who, clearly aware that  the candidates hadn’t said anything stupid enough at that point, decided to fill in for them…Any way, he hated it. The final product was called Prism, in a 3 sided bottle (that looked more like a perfume bottle to me, or a weapon depending upon what time of the evening it is and how rough a bar you were drinking in) with 3 ingredients.

Lookey-Likey and Army guy were (as LudAllen put it) the 'mixologists' for Stella’s team. Shibby the surgeon and Liz were responsible for creating the product for Chris. As is tradition, both team’s behaved stupidly…Lookey-Likey and Army guy decided to go for a drink that they both thought tasted awful, whilst Liz and Shibby the Surgeon ignored Chris the boring Investment Bankers instruction to go for a clear drink. Liz believed guys would not have a problem hanging around with a pink drink, Shibby was too busy advising Liz to “spit rather than swallow” to point out that most men would disagree with that theory… Millions of men across the nation roared at the TV at that point, (I swear I heard it).

So to the adverts where Chris proved, yet again, that he does not have a budding career in film. He instructed one of his actors to 'dance walk', which he demonstrated...suffice to say, 'dance walking' won't catch on. He also seemed to have employed the most incompetent barman in the world - it took him about 15 minutes to get some ice and Pomegranates into a glass (cut to the final advert, where pomegranates were bouncing off of the bar). Stella's add was equally silly, just marginally less silly that Chris's. She did however, have the revolutionary idea of having the ladies in her advert ask for a drink themselves "so we can irradiate this issue of women not wanting to buy it.” mmmm.

So to the prep for their launch parties, where Stella’s team, of mainly girls, true to form started bickering. Cut to a vignette of Stella (after she had shut them all up): "Everyone likes to have an opinion and express themselves…which is what my team like doing..” Cut to Joanna laying tables. "They’re doing something else at the minute…”. Stella is an evil genius!! Meanwhile over on Chris’s team, his monotone presentation style was boring his team to tears. Forrest (aka Jamie) decided to advise him on how to put some ‘vav, va voom’ into his pitching. As far as I was concerned Chris lost at that point.

The actual presentations were preceded, for both teams, by the most ridiculous dance sequences ever danced. No one explained why the audience were subjected to that. Equally, the connection with alcohol, other than the fact that most people dance like idiots after a few bevies, was unclear...

The presentations were both quite good (yes even Chris’s. I am big enough to admit that I was wrong about Forrest’s ‘va-va voom’ it clearly worked!) Chris indicated that ‘the price of Pomegranates would drop significantly’ due to demand for his drink. Whilst Stella, in an attempt to  prove that the name Urbon wouldn’t alienate country folk, indicated that she is hoping to move out to the country ‘if this all goes well and I don’t doubt that I’ll be sipping an Urbon in my country pad’.  

The expert’s summing up was that Urbon had a cohesive campaign, but tasted like crap (no one mentioned that it looked like a bottle of cloudy urine, they did say vinegar though. I think they were being polite). They also thought the concept of ‘3’ that Chris used for his Prism campaign was very clever. A few of them seemed to think the bottle shape worked. I still think it looked more like perfume. All of which serves to prove that I don’t have a promising career in marketing either…

So to the final Boardroom, where all of the ex candidates were effusive in their praise for Chris and Stella (which I thought was a bit hypocritical as I’m sure each and everyone of them had slagged either Stella or Chris off effusively at one point this series). Even LudAllen didn’t really have anything bad to say - all a bit dull really.

Finally, the two candidates were back in the boardroom selling themselves to LudAllen. Stella let herself down a tad by telling LudAllen he'd "be mad not to employ me. I don’t think Chris is as passionate as I am" about this. (Side note: can we pass a motion outlawing the use of the word ‘passionate’ in the next series please?) Chris stood on the moral high ground and merely pointed out that she wasn’t in a position to comment on how passionate, or not he may be. Bearing in mind he delivered that speech in his usual monotone, it was difficult to disagree with her…I was worried Stella may have annoyed LudAllen at that point, I haven’t had an interview for a little while, but I’m pretty certain, telling your prospective employer he’d be mad not to hire you, is not commonly accepted interview technique.

Is she really tall or is LudAllen a midget?
LudAllen’s summing up included the telling question: "Do I want someone with more experience, or do I need the aggravation of training someone?" Erm, I thought this was meant to be 'The Apprentice'? Surely the requirement to train someone is a given? Turns out, LudAlllen couldn't be ars@ed with the whole 'training' lark, so Stella got the job, (hurrah!!!). I think the best person won :-)

So that's it for a few more months. Series 7 looks like it might be interesting. LudAllen is dispensing with the whole "Apprentice' smokescreen and is searching for a partner. Presumably that will mean a change to format and a different quality of candidate. It's back in the Spring, see you then!

(Mental note: brush up on interview technique, calling your potential employer a psycho is obviously the way forward!)

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