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Apprentice Review: Is this a real toy story?

The Apprentice’s third episode aired yesterday (Wednesday 16th October) on BBC1; now with 14 candidates seeking to impress Sir Alan Sugar. A review by Jamie Martin, managing director & founder of Correct Careers Coaching, delivers modern sales & marketing training.

Week three began by the candidates meeting Lord Sugar at London’s Cambridge Theatre, home to Matilda the Musical by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The challenge was to create a new toy (target market six to eight-year-olds). Part of the challenge was to promote this toy through creating an online video.

Creativity, imagination and persuasive communication are the characteristics I believe were required to be successful during this task, especially when pitching to several of the biggest retail companies within the toy industry.

Lord Sugar started the task of by swapping the teams around; much to the girls’ dismay as they had won the first two tasks. The new teams are now ‘Unison’; project leader for this ‘toy’ task was Riyonn and team ‘Empower’ with the project leader for this task being Pamela.
During the storyboard stage, Ryionn decided on a cheesy dance video to promote Unison’s product ‘Tommy the Talking Turtle’, which was created by the design team led by sub-team leader Thomas. 

The idea of a talking turtle toy demonstrated imagination from the team, however Scarlett felt it wouldn’t be popular for the specific age range (as Scarlett has a seven year old daughter, I feel her view should have been given more serious consideration). Undertaking even simple competitor research stage at the start is vital for the success of a product.
Team Empower decided on the concept of slime. Pamela chose Jemelin to be the sub-team leader and in charge of the online video. This disappointed Lewis who felt he should take this role due to his digital marketing background. 

The story of the video ended up as a fairy tale theme, though the content of this video didn’t convince Karren. In the product review; the video felt the actual unicorn product didn’t include much of the slime USP.

The initial impressions from Unison’s dance video were voiced by Souleyman, where the content was not making sense in relation to the turtle toy, Claude also felt the overall brand of this product would appeal more to a younger age. 

Again, during the logo design of this toy, Souleyman’s negative comments were noticed by Claude and the rest of the Unison team. My view is that criticism has to be constructive, compassionate and also backed up by ideas – no one likes a whinger.
At the pitching stage, firstly with John Lewis, the Unison pitch team Unison used buzz words like innovation, fun, and confidence-building, however, feedback was that the the turtle toy and video were for a younger age range. Where had we heard that before?

For team Empower, John Lewis initially didn’t see the connection between the unicorn product and the fairy tale slime video, Aiysha saved the pitch by elaborating on the story behind the video. 

The communication delivered when marketing a product needing to be relevant and clear so the message is not confused. 
Research was then conducted with a focus group of children. They felt Empower’s slime unicorn product was confusing, with only one child being interested in the toy. For Unison’s turtle product, the children said the toy needed to be more interesting.

When developing new products, a beta test (trial group project) can help identify feedback from the target market; to improve any areas of the product before its release. However this has to be taken into account, otherwise why bother? 

While pitching to a high-end retailer, the unicorn toy from team Empower was criticised for only having a small pot of slime. For the Empower’s turtle product; the turning point of this pitch was following Lottie mentioning there were mixed reviews from the focus group leaving a worrying impression.

A heated discussion within the boardroom occurred from both sides. Lord Sugar was was not impressed by the limited slime provided with the unicorn toy as well as the turtle toy not suiting his brief. He took Thomas to task about not fulfilling the brief and warned him that he needs to listen. 

The results delivered, where team Empower were the victors with John Lewis purchasing 2,000 units. Team Unison ended up with zero orders, the high-end retailer could have been interested in purchasing their turtle toy product but only for a pre-school audience.
Back in the boardroom, Ryionn returned with Souleyman and Lottie – although this week Lottie had not been so annoying. Souleyman took that award hands down. 

Lord Sugar fired Solueyman for his negative approach during this task having an impact on team morale. 

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