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Apprentice Review by Media Consultant & Journalist Fiona Scott Ep.10

This week’s episode was the last task with just six candidates remaining. A last chance to shine before the famous and brutal ‘interview’ week. The teams were taken to the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and told to create their own perfume, brand it and then pitch it to buyers from Boots and Debenhams.

Pamela, who was almost a nonentity last week, had no choice, she had to be PM leading the way for Lewis and Dean. On the other team, no surprise the ‘super-talented’ Lottie was eager to take the lead (she is of course a perfume expert because she’d chosen the perfumes of several friends). Carina put herself forward – having already been PM twice and won twice. Why? She freely admitted it was to stop Lottie taking over. Scarlett had the casting vote and Lottie lost.

Pamela’s leadership style was weak from the start, she dithered about whether to focus on the marketing and messaging – or the perfume creation. Anyone who knows about business should know that the former is absolutely key, the story sells the product or service. 

Leaving digital marketing expert Lewis in charge of the branding, he steadfastly misunderstood the brief and even when told his ideas were not appropriate, he still blundered on creating marketing packaging which didn’t match the product. 

At least he did something though – Dean excelled in the art of doing very little except talking from time to time. The resulting perfume – Determined – looked like something a hiker would use to ease chafing. Or was it chaffing, or quaffing? Spelling was something of an issue here – the woman was not ‘independent’ she was ‘indepedent’ and ‘parfum’ was actually ‘parfam’. 

Carina was much more decisive and very quickly supported the idea of a unisex perfume – that Scarlett later named Captivation. Carina clearly made an intuitive decision to control Lottie by keeping an eye on her and trusting Scarlett to create good marketing alone. Luckily Scarlett got on with the job – the only weak link for them was Lottie’s marketing poster. The message was ‘unisex’, ‘powerful’, ‘empowering’, ‘equal’. The poster with a man leaning over woman talking on the phone behind a traditional desk shouted ‘1980s’ and didn’t fit the brand in any way.

The marketing on this task was central and demonstrated clearly how powerful the story is in business.  The story needed to be carried through from the fragrance, to the branding to the assets (poster) to the pitch. 

Carina’s team won an order for 9,000 bottles even though the perfume was not as well received as a fragrance. In fact Lord Sugar’s representative Karen Brady commented that it contained everything including the kitchen sink – and smelled like the kitchen sink.

Pamela, Dean and Lewis seemed to have a better product in terms of smell – even Lord Sugar said it was pleasant - yet failed on the story and the messaging and secured an order for 8,000 bottles. 

In the boardroom it was clear that Pamela, Dean and Lewis had all shown weakness in this task and it did seem as if Pamela might be on her way home. Lord Sugar said her perfume should have been called “Indecisive By Pamela’. How she survived, I don’t know (I suspect her business idea is good). It was the invisible Dean who made his exit. I would have fired them both and given Lewis a lifeline as he’s proved himself on previous tasks. 

Lessons from this week’s show: 

  • A product is important – however marketing is as important and is the only way of bringing a product to life before people buy. 
  • In a small team the leader must lead the marketing.
  • Be clear about the vision – then repeat, repeat, repeat so there can be no doubt about that vision for any team member.
  • When something has gone wrong, and you are at fault, take responsibility. Evading blame, or worse, blaming someone else, never goes well in the long term.
  • Don’t be an insufferable know it all – no one is good at everything and by pretending you are has one inevitable outcome – ensuring no one really likes you.

Next week is interview week and that episode will be reviewed by communication expert Emma Serlin of London Speech Workshop. 

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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