Yesterday we saw our candidates take a trip to TBWA, the ad agency responsible for unleashing the creative genius of Trevor Beattie – the guy who put the C before the U in French Connection and caused many a car crash when he laid Eva Herzigová on a billboard to say Hello Boys for Wonderbra.  

I was expecting good things.  The branding and advertising task is always a highlight due to the completely ridiculous antics of the candidates in the name of ‘creativity’… who can forget Phillip Taylor’s Pantsman? Well, this episode did not let us down! 

This year’s theme? Pet food.  And what a CATastrophe that turned out to be! The task was very straightforward; find a gap in the market, develop a brand and create a 30” TV commercial.  Simple right? Wrong! Both teams went on to make a right dog’s dinner of it (sorry couldn’t resist!). 

First of all let’s look at Team Venture, project managed by ‘I’m a designer’ Glenn (whom I fear has a touch of Susanitus).  Despite having an absolutely dreadful name and tagline – ‘Cats’ Size’ – See their Light (light, diet cat food, gettit?) – they actually produced a good-looking product that targeted a specific market sector, and despite a very twee ad, it looked like something that could sell.  Ok, their pitch was dreadful, but they did just about enough to win the task. 

And then there was Team Logic led by Vincent. Their brand, Every Dog, aimed at, erm, every dog, completely missed the point of the task; to exploit a gap in the market.  Now despite a rubbish name, in the real world, I do believe that Vincent’s brand had more longevity than Glenn’s – the name is easily adaptable to different animals and has scope to develop into more niche markets with their product offerings.  

But SurAl wanted a gap-filler and Vinnie did not deliver.  Teamed with unattractive packaging and Melody racing through her pitch like a greyhound fresh out the traps it wasn’t looking promising!  Their only saving grace was the bouncy pup that brought (the ever so slightly chavvy) Natasha’s ad a much-needed injection of humour.  However, Lord Sugar failed to see the funny side and Team Logic were packed off to the Bridge Street Café. 

(Did anyone else notice at this point that not one mention was made about the quality of the food itself – the actual product clearly wasn’t important!) 

But the real issue in this week’s show?  Well, they say, never work with children or animals, but in this case the animals behaved impeccably; it was the egos around them that caused the problems.  The one phrase that really sprung to mind was ‘it’s all about me!’ 

The ‘stars’ of the pet food show are all what we know as ‘high Project Leaders’.  A high Project Leader will shout from the rooftops about their achievements, take credit for anything they can, and generally believe they are right about everything. 

This can be dangerous territory if your belief of ‘it’s my way or the highway’ clouds your judgement and you refuse to listen to others around you – as demonstrated beautifully last night. 

We had Natasha, shouting about how the commercial was HER vision and SHE was director and getting angry when Ellie disputed her lack of continuity; Glenn, who sent his team off to do research only to ignore the results as HIS idea was better and Leon who claimed he could easily knock up a 20 minute pitch in 5 whole hours, only to bumble his way through a truly dreadful presentation.  Any one of these Ego trips could have had dire consequences for the candidates… they were lucky.

And then we have Jim.  Jim who has shone throughout, has been the one beacon of hope that not all the candidates had hit every branch of the Stupid Tree on their way down.  Jim, who is so self-assured he genuinely believes he has the Midas Touch and his every decision will come off smelling like roses.  Jim, who last night let his façade slip, who showed how he is ruled by his ego, and is not as purrrfect (sorry!) as he seems. 

Jim, who Sugar saw straight through and surely would have fired if Vinnie had been brave enough to take him into the boardroom.

Jedi Jim’s ability to charm and manipulate those around him has done a good job of wooing the audience thus far.  But last night’s display of Ego teamed with lack of substance upon delivery meant a big fall from grace – a warning to all you high Project Leaders out there – pride comes before a fall.

But onto the boardroom.  Vincent, as project manager, called back Ellie, for generally doing nothing, and Natasha for reasons only known to him.  Jim, the Batman to Vincent’s Robin escaped the requisite boardroom blue contact lenses, despite being a key part of all his team’s decisions, namely coming up with Every Dog.  Big mistake Vinnie! 

After the usual arguments Ellie was uneventfully fired… only for SurAlan to pull out the twist.  Due to his lack of courage to bring man’s best friend Jim into the boardroom, and his failure on every single task, Vincent was also sent on his way, his tail between his legs; a move that sent shockwaves through the house.  Wise move Al, now we no longer have to look at the bit of fluff masquerading as Vincent’s tash.

So what have we learned from Episode 5? Quite simply – be brave and control that Ego or you could end up in the doghouse. 

See you next time…