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THE APPRENTICE - Task Two 
“I did wonder if Richard had bought a management book and read it from cover to cover before coming here” Karren Brady, Episode 2 

Image supplied by www.tv.bt.com 
An Apprentice-fest this week, with two episodes on consecutive evenings – so here we go again, with our second blog of the series… This evening’s task saw a return to ‘girls v. boys’ and normality was resumed, with Elle this time coming up with the non-PC comment ‘it’s good that we have got rid of Brett, because he is bald’… 
 
Tonight’s task was the marketing task, with the Candidates meeting Lord Sugar at the Barbican Conservatory, where they were told they would be branding and marketing a shampoo that used as its base, cactus seed oil – renowned for its moisture retention properties. The only way his briefing could have been more explicit, would have been for Lord Sugar, Karren and Claude to simultaneously use imprinted breezeblocks to slap the message into the face of the candidates; so with that in mind, it should have been an easy task… shouldn’t it?? 
 
The boys assumed the role of ‘team Versatile’, leaving the girls as ‘Connexus’; somewhat ironic given that the girls approach to the task were anything but connected. This time there was a little competition for the PM role, with Charleine putting herself forward because she is a hairdresser and therefore talks about shampoo every day… However, she was beaten to the punch by Aisha who felt that her previous experience of launching a product meant that she was better placed to take on this role and the girls all agreed with her, leaving a deflated Charleine once again… 
 
As with the first task, the two elected PM’s sat at opposite ends of the leadership styles continuum; with Richard taking a more controlled, but delegating style, which led to some criticism from his team that ‘he was delegating enough to be able to absolve responsibility if they lost the task, whilst retaining enough control to take the credit if they won the task’. Again, Aisha took a very dictatorial stance and proclaimed immediately that ‘anyone who did not perform in the task would be taken into the Boardroom’. 
The Tannenbaum-Schmidt Leadership Continuum 
Unlike the boys team, who chose to market the product to a male audience – thereby playing to their strengths; the girls opted to market to the ‘grey pound’, women aged over 50. Okay, so they have got the ‘female’ aspect down, but given that they have an average age of 29, are they really in a position to know what women aged over 50 are looking for in their shampoo?? 
 
Given what happened next, I’d say No!! Half the team went off to shoot the 30 second billboard advert and when they arrived at the location, they found two models – booked by Aisha, one of whom was aged 22 and the other aged 26… I’m no marketing expert; but whilst women of a certain age might be interested in hair care products which claim to keep their hair younger-looking, I suspect that Trading Standards might have something to say about claims that a shampoo will actually take 30 years off you!!! 
 
Fortunately, Ruth was with the sub-group and as she was at least a little closer to the age of the target market, was able to step in as the model for the billboard… 
 
We then come onto the name chosen by the girls for their product, which was then to become the theme through their advertising; that of ‘Desert Secret’… Let’s rewind for a moment, back to the initial briefing by Lord Sugar, where I could swear that he was quite clear that the brand and marketing should extol the virtue of the moisture retaining properties of the cactus seed oil… So, how does that fit with a ‘secretive’ marketing campaign?? Well, frankly it doesn’t! 
The girls packaging then left a lot to be desired; as described by Vana in the pitch to the industry experts – ‘the bottle is green, because the cactus is green’… Really!!! Aisha then insisted on having an image of a cactus flower on the bottle, because it was more feminine than a cactus and leading Lord Sugar to comment that it looked as though ‘someone had sneezed whilst eating a raspberry’!!! Again, rewind back to the initial briefing where Lord Sugar was really clear that the use of the cactus within the product should be a prominent feature of the brand… To me it seems a bit of a no-brainer – firstly, if Lord Sugar has made a ‘suggestion’, then it generally isn’t a suggestion, it is an ‘instruction’ and if you don’t like that, then what are you doing in this process??? Secondly, if you want to illustrate the cactus in a feminine way, then you don’t have to go with the archetypal image of a ‘western’ cactus (as selected by the boys team), you pick an image of a ‘flowering cactus’ – there are literally hundreds available on the internet… 
Image obtained from fotolia.com 
Image obtained from myhoneysplace.com 
I’m going to skirt over the whole nightmare which was the girl’s advert – that’s one that is best consigned to Room 101!!! And so, we come to their pitch to the industry experts, led by Natalie – who openly admitted later in the Boardroom that her style was laboured because she had no belief in the product. She was, quite frankly lucky to escape that one… That aside; it was in the pitch that their complete lack of understanding of their target market was most evident… 
 
Again, I’m no marketing expert but I do have some understanding of demographics and would hazard a reasonable guess that women within their target demographic are more likely to be established within their jobs/careers, have a stable home-life with older children who may have already left home and who may also be close to having paid off their mortgages and are therefore more likely to have disposable income… So for Natalie to suggest that they are unlikely to buy expensive products from a salon and ‘fear’ new products, seems both naïve and as pointed out by Karren, highly insulting… 
 
Ultimately, the boys won the task and whilst their efforts weren’t without fault, they did ultimately listen to and follow the brief and went for a target audience that they understood and could relate to… Meaning that overall, their brand and campaign was far more convincing than that which was produced by the girls… I’m sure though that I will have the opportunity to focus more closely on their efforts in the next task… 
 
Image obtained from the phsotruestory.com 
Who should have gone then? 
 
Taken back into the Boardroom were Natalie and Vana and on this occasion, I would have to agree with Lord Sugar’s decision that the person responsible for the failure of the task was the PM, Aisha. Whilst she and April shared a very similar dictatorial approach to the PM role; April was able to escape being fired because the task on which she was PM was essentially about selling and she had chosen someone to take back into the Boardroom who openly admitted that they were unable to sell… Aisha on the other hand, consistently failed to listen - to the brief and to her colleagues and that was her downfall; this was a marketing task and what is key in this sort of task is listening to the client, understanding their needs and then delivering and she failed on all three counts… 
What we learnt about the Candidates… 
 
These first two tasks have taught us that Charleine should never contemplate playing poker; her deflated look when her idea for a team name was shot down in episode one paled in comparison to her look of disappointment when the girls elected Aisha over her as PM in episode two… Her little looks and digs through the course of the second task, having not been selected as PM also suggest that she is possibly not a woman to cross… Revenge is a dish best served cold springs to mind… 
 
 
 
Image obtained from pinterest.com 
... And then there were 16... 
 
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