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Salim Earle

The Chemistry Group

Business Analyst

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TV Review: The Apprentice Week 9 – Focus and a consistent brand message are key

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And so another Wednesday came around and I was licking my lips with anticipation at what our remaining hopefuls would be asked to do by Sir Alan and his gang, especially now we are in the ‘business end’ (no pun intended!) of the show.

This week the candidates had to come up with marketing campaigns to promote English Sparkling Wine.
 
Basically, they needed to dress up some English ‘plonk’ which is apparently very good, but that does not share anywhere near the same market dominance as its French counterpart.
 
I can’t for the life of me see why…you’d think that everyone with a bit of cash in their pocket would opt for the beautifully entitled “sparkling wine” over the classless and dated “champagne”!
 
The teams were asked to produce an awareness campaign which included a website and an online advert. Some discerning industry experts would judge their campaigns and the winners would be chosen on merit. What a corking task (pun intended)!
 
Was it just me or was anyone else worrying about the deadly concoction that would be Ricky Martin and copious amounts of alcohol? Cue sensational YouTube clip of sozzled part-time wrestler choke slamming Sir Alan through the boardroom table.
 
For those of you as enthralled with The Apprentice as I am, I’m sure that one name in particular popped into your head upon hearing this weeks task…Tom! Perfect on paper, given he is director of a fine wine investment company….Cometh the man, cometh the hour.
 
Suitably unimpressed
 
Tom stepped up to the plate for the second week in a row with all the swagger of a man who had already been enjoying a few glasses of the good stuff. Team Phoenix had a saviour…or did they?
 
For Team Sterling, Ricky emerged as project leader from a very bizarre round of voting during which everyone voted for themselves. I believe he won with one vote…democracy!
 
Both teams decided that quality and heritage were the buzz words for their product with Team Phoenix looking to create the ESW (English Sparkling Wine) seal of approval to be used across the UK whilst Team Sterling opted for ‘Grandeur’ because of all of its classical ‘British’ connotations! Oh dear.
 
Half of each team stayed in London in order to plan the marketing campaigns, while their teammates gleefully headed to vineyards to get better acquainted with the product…and for team Phoenix that meant “get on the lash”.
 
Adam, who is never short of a sharp quip or some informed insight, confidently proclaimed that one of his wines smelt like “Christmas cake”. (Any restaurant owners out there looking for a new Sommelier, I believe Adam is available to hire.)
 
For team Sterling, the shelves of Tesco’s (other supermarkets are available) were as good as any vineyard. That is until Steven realised that the in-house expert was away that day!
 
Having cobbled together their websites and videos, both teams presented back to the industry experts who were suitably unimpressed. In the end, they opted for Team Phoenix and their bore-fest of a video over Team Sterling’s “Carry On Drinking’ production. Sir Alan drolly summed it up as only he can: “Spielberg can rest easy.”
 
The usual tussle of hyperbole and narcissism ensued, with Jenna eventually being given marching orders. To be honest, I barely noticed she was in the process so it is not the greatest loss.
 

Apprentice Week 9 – Key Learning – Focus and a consistent brand message are key

 
Given what was actually produced by the teams this week, two things come to mind: Focus and Synergy.
 
Team Sterling had real focus that enabled them to produce a brand that was exactly ‘on brief’. However, because they lacked synergy, their downfall came with a video that was tacky and a complete contrast to the quality, quality, quality tag line they had produced.
 
Team Sterling lost the task because their focus did not translate into real synergy. If you think of any top brand out there at the moment, what is key and distinct about their success is that their brand message and identity dominates everything they do. Sterling were unable to do this and let a good idea, and real focus go to waste.
 
On the other hand Team Phoenix, whilst eventual winners in this task, really seemed to take their foot off the ball. I got the impression that they assumed they had won already given the expertise within the team and for this reason there was no focus.
 
They got through by the skin of their teeth simply because of the synergy within their branding and task execution. It was yawn.com but it presented a complete and uniform marketing campaign which did not contain any conflicting messages.
 
On another day, they would have lost comfortably – which goes to show the importance of focus and understanding ‘where you want to go’. Without this, you might as well be wandering in the dark…or be drunk, as was the case for Tom and Adam.
 
Therefore the learning this week is that great companies and great ideas need both focus and synergy; you should constantly question who you are and what you want to achieve and make sure that this message translates itself into everything you touch.
 
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Salim Earle

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