It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

The Apprentice: series 5; episode 5

This week was the test of the contents of the marketing mix: in this case product development, promo, advertising and marketing.  It involved producing the theme, the packaging and the on-screen advertising for the product, as well as developing its unique selling point.  All involved creative thought.  Here, Sir Alan introduced a child-friendly but healthy cereal for the teams to play with.  And play they did…


Someone seems to have taken away Philip's happy pills and the effect was both material and monstrous.  OK, so he threw himself into the task with plenty of suggestions, but then he would not take any criticism and threw a "terrible twos' tantrum" whenever it came, acting like a megalomaniac and eventually proving to be the wire brush to Lorraine's sensitive skin.  War simmered and eventually raged.

Philip first mentioned the idea of a "cereal killer".  Good for the team for turning that one down.  (Yes, it has been done and you may find a cartoon greetings card for adults.  But for kids?  Definitely not.)  Then, Nick grimaced when Philip suggested an idea focused on "pants" and later he performed a "Dance in your Pants" jingle.  I watched thinking "Ants in Your Pants" and grimacing myself.  But the team, led by American patisserie puff queen Kimberly ran with that one.  It became "Pantsman" with the pants on the outside.

Kate's team thought the cereal came across as a treasure trove, full of jewels within because of the freeze dried fruits.  They've clearly never tried the later versions Special K, because freeze dried fruits are colourful but they are certainly not tasty and in texture resemble dried up polystyrene.  But thinking "treasure", they thought of pirates and parrots and then a parrot as a pirate – Captain Squawk – and the brand of Treasure Flakes was born.

From the editing it was Philip who argued over everything and he and Lorraine did not see eye to eye.  When working on the music for Pantsman, Philip taking the lead as usual – as it was his baby – the man in the studio looked bemused and unconvinced.  But when it came to unconvinced, neither Lorraine nor Howard ever managed to look convinced, with Howard trying to reconcile the pair in an office lobby.  Is it just me who thought that Howard came across as quietly shifty this week?  He was never displaying great enthusiasm, never looked convinced, but when he tried to facilitate the reconciliation he seemed to suggest that Lorraine should make all the moves and support Philip. (She was later criticised by Sir Sacch for effectively being a "groaner" but I thought she was a superb purveyor of her own beliefs and a victim of the bullying the Philomegalomanic.)

On packaging, unlike the bingo buster that turned into something more elaborate but became a teenage physics glue and paste project on production of the prototype, this week's prototype for Kate's team was pretty spot on for Treasure Flakes.  Alas, on Kim's team they spent so long finding a compass to navigate their way into the Lost World that is the creative process that they had so little time within it, they had to outsource the production based on a few words over the phone.  This included confirmation that the team would not be returning to the office that evening, so it was all up the poor man who got the request.  About the only thing specified to any (subjective) degree was the background colour for the box.  Apple green.  Ever been a paint shop, anyone?  We knew the fall was coming now, even if a red herring was served up later.

Back to Kim's team and props for the ad.   They went to buy pants.  Is there a sponsorship deal going on with Asda for this series?  This was the second time Asda featured; the first was for the dire cheapest mix of ingredients for Yasmina's winning team during catering week.  (Note: I am not criticising Asda or "the cheapest" here, but I once bought some cheap tinned tuna from another store and it was so dire I could not eat it.  There are limits when it comes to edibility.)  I loved the customer assistant at Asda.  Seeing the packs opened and the Y fronts tried on by both male and female, she said "I hope you're going to buy that."  They said "yes" and she wandered off.  I'd have bloody well marched them to the tills, open packets in hand and still wearing the extricated Y fronts over their skirts and trousers.  Very naughty, my darlings.  Not on at all.

Back to Kate's team.  They went to a rain forest themed London restaurant for their photoshoot.  The emboldened big ego of Ben led to him playing Captain Squawk, after the female voice for the jingle did not go down well with the team and especially Kate.  Their ad included a young boy who was about to discover the delights of Treasure Flakes.  The young boy actor had been carefully selected.  Quote of the night: "I've got a nut allergy" said he.  Needless to say, we never saw him eat any of the new cereal after his playing around with his gruel in the bowl and looking like Oliver Twist on a very bad day.  But he did throw the cereal into the air as if it was treasure.  I just hope he washed his hands afterwards.  And he obviously enjoyed playing a pirate in the final scene of immense enthusiasm for the product.

Back to Kim's team: Nourul, desperately quiet throughout – no surprises there then, when will he go?  This coming week, if we are lucky… – got to wrap up in costume as Pantsman and was consigned to the garage to wait as his appearance was meant to be a surprise to the kids in the ad.  It was, but not as successfully as intended, as Nick pointed out.  And when it came to the pitch, Kim and Mona crossed swords, while Kate's team crossed only spoons in the Captain Squawk cartoon logo.

Unfortunately, Mona (pitching for Kate's team) misinterpreted the laugher from the audience at McCann Erickson on her introduction on the pitch; it was not "laugh with" but the vapours of cynicism emanating the room with more bite than Vicks Vapour Rub on a sterile winter night.  Philip, for Kim's team, cringed during feedback from a professional and finally didn't argue back when the man from McCann Erickson told him why his brand of juice didn't work.  The man from Del Monte may say "yes" but the man from McCann Erickson explains the paradox of the idea and its resulting confusion.

And so, it was to the boardroom we travelled to do the opposite of Cluedo; we all knew who had done what, where and when, but who was to be the victim?  Mark your cards now…  Kate's team's delivery was not lauded and came in for some criticism, but they came out on top.  It was Kim's team – you know, the constantly bickering one that was bludgeoned into the megalomaniac's "Theme Philip" escapade – that fell on the other team's Captain Squawk 's sword because what they delivered was "pants" actually.  Just like that movie "Love Actually" – it was all that it said on the outer label.  "Pants Actually" was a misnomer and a paradox, a source of conflict for kids.  If you wake up sleepy-eyed and have your pants on the outside, eating this cereal would put you right.  And yet it was promoted by a super-hero, Pantsman, who did actually did have his pants on the outside.  How are kids to learn logic, let alone good food?  The decision was right: Kim's team had to lose.

And so came the Boardroom débacle over who presented the best case as to why they should not be fired (as it has become, of late).  For the losing team Kim, Philip and Lorraine returned.  Unfortunately, in deciding to fight her corner early, Lorraine was present at a disadvantage and Sir Sacch saw her as a miserrimus of sorts.   (Careful how you criticise others in the office.)  Philip was condemned for his "pants" idea, but lauded for having the creative push; at the same as being noted as being a bulldozer, cocky and laid-back.  Sir Sacch missed out on "megalomaniac".  Kim Cream Puff got the fluffy end of the feather-brush-out-the-door in the end and met her fate in the taxi cab.

The other quote of the night was from Nick – Margaret was mostly noted for eyebrow activity this week – "They took logic and tortured it until it screamed."  Luckily, we didn't seem them hand, draw and quarter it.  That could have brought the programme into disrepute and resulted in a firing of the production team.  Not that I'm thinking the reality could be much worse than the edits and I'd love to see the cutting room floor bits, should they be available.

"You're Fired" was a delight of comedy this week and not just because of the appearance of Jenny Eclair, who thought the pants thing had potential for young boys: if only they'd gone down the farting route with all that fibre…  Mary Portas was also a scream with a dry but acerbic and vigorous contribution.  The whole team worked well together.  The Saatchi and Saatchi CEO was good value for money and played alongside the others, who are media whores to greater and lesser extents, well.  They made a fantastic team with Adrian Chiles chairing.

Another quote of the night which I believe will come up next week, from Sir Sacch, "…There's a taxi driver waiting outside already typing your address into his satnav…"  Loved it.

Next week we have the ten items that have to be sold, but their values are variable with some worth lots and others much less.  How will the teams compete and compare?  This will be another test, but perhaps of naivety mostly.  Bring it on for this viewer…

But before you go, please remember that Philip is a "one-take only" kind of guy.  Happy pills or not.  He said it.

4 comments on “The Apprentice: series 5; episode 5

  1. Norm
    April 26, 2009

    What amused me about this episode was that Kimberley was ‘waiting for this test ‘ and as Sir Alan said as a marketing executive [whatever they do] should have walked it. Then she told us she was not on the creative side of things which meant I still don’t know what a marketing executive does, surely an executive makes decisions for example Philip idea was crap.
    Kim’s idea of marketing in not bothering too much with the box was an interesting concept, and was reminiscent of those book cover designers who just use the cover on so and so’s book.
    I am still wondering how branding and marketing firms work when a charity whose name for 40 years was CARE [Cottage And Rural Enterprises] could rename itself thanks to some agency with Kimberley style executives SELF UNLIMITED. Was Philip involved?

  2. Maxine
    April 26, 2009

    Norman, that is so sad. How stupid of them. Marketing executives, now don’t get me started. I even half-heard this episode of the Apprentice as Jenny was watching it while I was round the corner blogging. It is all such a load of old rubbish, competing to see who was best at conning the public (gullible young mothers?) into buying sugar-filled, E-number-spiked rubbish, by lying that it is healthy, exciting etc. Oh, I can’t stand it all, this lying rubbish of sales and marketing. I get so hurt when I see how much this affects my own teenage daughters who are more suseceptible than me to believe rubbish based on personal insecurities, apprearance, lies about cosmetics, etc. I’m going away now.

  3. Dom Burch
    April 27, 2009

    no sponsorship deal, just an overly helpful ASDA press office agreeing to last minute filming requests from the production company. They must have called 20 different times. Debateable as to whether it’s worth our while, but equally not sure it does us any harm.

  4. cfr
    April 27, 2009

    Dom,
    Thanks for leaving the comment to clarify. I think you did much better out of this episode than the one on food. The lady checking they were going to pay for the items was a star.

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2009 by in Television.
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