02/06/2011

The Apprentice - Not 'every dog has his day' (sorry couldn't resist..)

So tonight was the much anticipated (by me anyway), advertising task, where the teams have to create a product and an associated marketing campaign.  This year product was pet food. This is the task that in the past has bought us gems such as Pantsman - Was he to be knocked off of his perch as the most ridiculous (and thus funny) product ever? Sadly no. Whilst they did make a bit of a dog's dinner of the whole thing (thought I’d get that out of the way early), it was dull, dull dull…

The episode started well with Glen ‘sans’ shirt, but was quickly ruined by Inspector Gadget’s (aka Tom) bright blue pants. The same pants as last week - not lucky, clearly, as he lost whilst wearing them…LudAllen informed the candidates that they had to “come up with an innovative product”, so basically, both teams were doomed. 

LudAllen decided to increase the comedy potential by putting Vince/Mickey, who declared that his “confidence and charisma can overpower certain people”, in charge of Logic. Glen was put in charge of Venture and I was instantly convinced of his imminent demise when he declared himself to be a 'designer'. Apparently, he does this sort of stuff everyday and is happiest when coming up with innovative products. That sort of statement is usually the Apprentice sign-posting who'll be in the boardroom at the end of the show. There was, however, light at the end of the tunnel for Glen as he was up against the incompetent Vince/Mickey....

Glen opted for Cat food, whilst Vince/Mickey went for Dog food and the “brainstorming” (I use the term loosely as there were no actual ‘brains’ involved) began. Jim got in early with "Fur Play" as a suggestion for a product name. I know I’m not the only one who thought dodgy ‘adult’ web site, involving people who don't shave. (Seriously, admit it, you know you thought that too…) Needless to say the team didn’t go for that one. Team Venture’s brainstorm saw Zoe suggesting: a ‘spa day for cats’; ‘cat weddings’; ‘cat mortgages’; and countless other non-cat food related activities??? Madame Edna, speaking for the first time since ‘glove-gate’, enquired as to “What sort of cat has long fur that can be put in curlers?” failing to explain to her bemused team why it was relevant. Maybe she thinks that sort of cat will look appropriate as she strokes it, in a Bond villan-esq fashion, whilst gloved up? None of which had anything to do with cat food, but all of which was fine according to Glen as, ‘no guts, no glory...I want everyone to put everything into this.’ The rest of his team had no idea what he was talking about either.

Vince/Mickey, Jim and Natasha attended a focus group where a Vet (aka an expert) and a bunch of dog owners assured him that one dog food cannot possibly be targeted to all dogs. Vince/Mickey, who has clearly watched the Apprentice many times before, ignored all the good advice and went for a dog food that caters to all dogs. Inspector Gadget, as we established last week clearly hasn’t watched the show before and keeps saying sensible things, expressed concern over the lack of a niche. Inspector Gadget is fast earning the reputation of being this year's Cassandra and in keeping with that, Vince/Mickey did the right thing and completely ignored him. Darth Jim strengthened Vince/Mickey’s resolve by suggesting the genius ‘Every Dog’, as a brand name. Vince/Mickey strategy was clear at this point i.e. Just do what Darth Jim says.

Meanwhile on team Logic, Leon suggested 'Lucky Fish’ as a product name. The 'logic’ behind that being that their Cat food will be so good, the cats won’t eat fish, they’ll go for the cat food instead. Inexplicably, the focus group they pitched it to thought it was good???? Glen 'mumbled some nonsense about 'Cat-Size' inspired as he was by the ‘Cat’s Eyes’ on the motorway. (Did you see what he did there? No? Well apparently it’s a double entendre in Glenworld. In the real world, it’s a really dreadful pun, but  I digress…) Despite the focus group indicating that 'Lucky Fish' was good, Glen decided to be decisive and go for his idea, Cat-Size, with the strap line "see their light". (Did you see what he did there? No? Well the cat food stops them from getting fat see, so they become lighter. In which case surely it should be ‘See they’re light'? The decline in standards of English is such that no one picked up on that error…) Glen’s team, forgetting that Glen is a creative genius used to coming up with innovative products, quite reasonably, greeted the idea with much hilarity. An unamused Glen told the camera that as PM he demands respect and that he would make them realise that they can’t mess with him. He phoned up to do just that, but failed miserably when Zoe put him in his place and hung up. That told them...

So to the casting for their respective adverts where: Leon insulted a pet owner by saying her Manx cat looked liked chicken and; Vince/Mickey asked an owner if he could "have the dog on all fours”. (Phnar, phnar. That's a double entendre Glen…) "Do you mean standing up?" asked the bemused owner.... Vincent instructed his team in the ‘4 Ps’. No one mentioned the 5th and most important ‘P’, "P@ss-off Vince/Mickey".

So to the presentations, where Glen decided Leon had to do the pitch for team Logic, mainly because Leon would be the worst person for it. As luck would have it, Leon had all day to write and rehearse it. As luck wouldn’t have it, he completely ballsed it up. “No-one actually said how well I did,” said Leon post the pitch. There was a reason for that Leon….Glen then spent some time trying to explain his tag line to a confused and unconvinced audience. Melody did a marginally better job, sounding confident whilst making no sense at all. One of the ad guys asked team Logic whether they didn’t think their product challenged the popular view, that most pet owners have, of the uniqueness of their pet. Darth Jim mind controlled them (and me), into thinking he had responded articulately to the question. None of us remember what he actually said, all of us felt inexplicably happy afterwards. The ad execs conferred post the presentations and concluded that they were both sh$t. Luckily for the candidates, LudAllen makes the decisions around there and thus one team would be allowed to win.

So to the boardroom, where LudAllen’s scriptwriters were on fire (!) kicking off with LudAllen announcing to Vince/Mickey that: with ‘…your track record, I don’t suppose 'Winalot’ was on the menu?” Post a viewing of Logic’s ad, where one of the dogs practically wolfed down the bowl along with the food, LudAllen asked if they’d starved the dog! Vince/Mickey’s team all declared him to be a magnificent project manger and Vince/Mickey tried to take the benefit for coming up with the product name (“We threw lots of ideas into the bowl” then washed them up?). Darth Jim, however, eventually exposed himself as the producer of that little gem.

LudAllen was as mystified by Glen’s 'Cat-Sized' concept, as were we all, even after watching Glen's ad and listening to his protracted explanation. Despite that and that fact that Logic’s actual ad was better, Venture won. Ostensibly, because their product (and allied concept), was better than Logic’s. The winners ‘prize’ was, for yet another week, infinitely less exciting than a trip to the loser’s café, (as my daughter put it, "at least you can get coffee there") i.e. playing tennis with Pat Cash?????

Meanwhile, back in the boardroom Ludallen kicked of the festivities with “Never mind Logic, you should be branded tragic…Vincent and Tom you’ve lost every task.” Vince/Mickey started his ‘save me’ campaign by pointing out that the team had said he managed the project well. LudAllen countered with the fact that in his experience, "teams have a tendency of changing their mind when they’re back in the boardroom”. Everyone rushed to point out that they all thought the concept was terrible and only went along with it because they had to. Even Darth Jim, who had earlier clamoured to accept responsibility for the name 'Every dog', now insisted it was a team decision. LudAllen was far from amused, making his displeasure clear by asking Darth Jim if he was made of “brains or bollocks.” Darth Jim failed to mind control LudAllen into agreeing he wasn't made of bollocks – are his powers waning? – and LudAllen pretty much signposted for Vince/Mickey that he should bring Darth Jim back to the Boardroom. Vince/Mickey failed to pick up on the signs and brought back Natasha and Ellie. A schoolboy error that was to cost him dearly…

LudAllen observed that “Jim seems to have some kind of control over people”. He's Darth Jim LudAllen, he is all powerful, get with the programme man… Back to the plot, Vince/Mickey explained that he brought Ellie back because she “knows dog food and buys dog food”??? He bought Natasha back for no discernable reason other than, “she pipes up when she wants to’??? Natasha felt that it was because Vince/Mickey’s head was firmly up Darth Jim’s rear end. Vince strenuously denied that, declaring that: "I'm not up Jim's arse." That sorted that out then... LudAllen, whose head may also be hovering around Darth Jim’s posterior, mused that “I kind of admire Jim, because he understands it’s dog eat dog.” Perhaps Darth Jim’s powers aren’t waning after all? The conclusion to all of this was a dramatic double firing, with Ellie going as she hadn’t done anything for five weeks and Vince/Mickey for basically being a twat.

Did the right people go? Yes, Ellie was pretty boring and Vince/Mickey’s ‘charisma’ (aka distinct lack thereof), was really starting to grate on my nerves. The most interesting development though, was LudAllen declaring to Darth Jim that his ‘card is marked’. Next week should be very exciting!

2 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say how much I love your comments on the Apprentice. They are always incredibly insightful and plain spot-on! My friends have always watched the show and then come onto your blog, so we anticipate with relish the next few thoughts you put down :)

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  2. Thank you!!! Work has been getting in the way of my viewing pleasure over the last couple of weeks...but I have sky-plussed Wednesday's episode so will comment at the weekend.

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