Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Apprentice-Cereal Killers

Some shows I have six pages of notes about The Apprentice; last night generated just two pages. Now either I'm being more efficient in my use of paper or the show was just a little dull. The show opened with Charmaine boo-hooing because the escapees from the board room said that Teresa got fired because she didn't bring Charmaine into the boardroom. Apparently this filled Charmaine with such guilt that she was forced to cry on camera. That was not a good move. On the other hand, she volunteered to be project manager to redeem herself, which was a good move.

The task this week is to promote Post cereals new GrapeNuts Trail Mix Crunch cereal. Just the name alone is a mouthful. They are to design a 20' X 15' billboard. Now I imagined a billboard sign which was wider than it was long. What the teams ended up designing was something taller than it was wide so I don't know if it was just poor understanding on my part or the inconsistent use of vocabulary. Sometimes they called it a billboard and sometimes they called it a banner. Of course, banner makes me think horizontal as well, but whatever.

Synergy led by Tammy bats around a few ideas about nutrition and fitness but ultimately decided to use a theme about the old generation of Grape Nuts eaters passing the torch to the new generation of Grape Nuts eaters. It had potential and I liked the idea and thought it was something they could win with. Of course, Synergy has the age old problem of what to do with Brent. He pushed hard for the fitness idea. He seemed to be stealing ideas from Special K in my mind, suggesting they have a slogan about Grape Nuts kick starting a ten pound weight loss. Didn't Special K do that already? After going with the generations theme, Tammy put Brent in charge of clothing for the presentation. Yesp--she made him wardrobe guy. Brent wanted to do the presentation, however, because that's what he's good at in his opinion. Tammy told him since they were not going with his idea regarding fitness or weight loss that he wouldn't be a good presenter. I wish she would have just said flat out, "Brent we can't trust you not to act like a dork in front of the executives and you're not going to present." But nooo, she had to "nice" it up and he used that against her later on.

Meanwhile, Gold Rush was led by Charmaine, who was determined to lead the team well. She did a fine job, re-focusing the team as needed and reminding them of their bottom line. While observing the team in action, George commented that Gold Rush is seven type A personalities. He felt they're difficult to manage. Small comfort if you are project manager I would suppose. Gold Rush ultimately chose a theme that related to how good the cereal tastes. They are going to show someone chugging the cereal.

Both teams hit the streets to find regular people models. Both are successful and find good models for their photo shoots. Andrea, at Synergy has some background in graphics and marketing so she is tasked to create the billboard/banner design. She has to do it with Brent constantly interrupting and suggesting alternative ideas which would have driven me crazy. The final design looked like a cereal box and the models pictures were inserted into a heart shape opening in the center. Gold Rush was on-track and then just as they were finishing...one of the guys ( I don't know his name) started to get cold feet about their direction, mostly because it was his idea and he didn't want to be blamed for a loss. Charmaine got pretty testy with him about that.

To my surprise, Gold Rush won the challenge. I really felt that the edit seemed to be pointing to a Synergy win. Gold Rush's simple design and great logo "It's that good!" were suitable for a billboard because you got the point in seconds. They chose an ordinary-looking woman for their model and dressed her in fitness gear which sent a subliminal message about the woman's interest in fitness while the overt message of the design showcased the great taste of the cereal.
The Post cereal people thought it was "Brilliant" and "Clear". The box says nutritious and she's says delicious.

Synergy's design was attractive but it was too busy and the point of the father passing on the Grape Nuts tradition was lost because they put the two people together in a heart shape which made you think the man was the girl's really old boyfriend. A passing car wouldn't have been able to get the point without reading all the text, and they wouldn't have had time to read the text unless they were caught in a traffic jam. Synergy had planned a little slide show presentation and Sean, the guy with the English accent, totally muffed the presentation as well.

Before the boardroom Brent said, (shades of last week) "Keep me out of the boardroom or you'll be sorry." In the boardroom the discussion began with a review of Tammy's performance as PM. Roxanne felt she was the "best PM we've had yet." Andrea didn't care for that comment, she apparently took that as an insult to the job she had done as PM. When asked about Tammy's performance, Brent went on the offensive and was offensive all at the same time saying, "Tammy stank--and it smells clear over here." Then he proceeded to vomit bile all over the room. Considering that at that point no one had said anything at all about Brent, he started the hostilities rather prematurely. He went on to claim that Tammy had called him fat and used that as an excuse not to have him present. Tammy denied it and she was partially truthful. She didn't call him fat, but she didn't use the excuse that they weren't doing Brent's idea about fitness as a reason not to have him present. I almost think I need to watch that scene again to straighten it all out in my own head, but I'm too lazy.

My sister was very offended when Trump agreed that Brent wouldn't have been a good presenter for a health/fitness type cereal. I thought it was true. Appearance does matter, unfortunately, to people's perceptions of you. This is where I think Tammy got herself into trouble, she used that fitness thing as an excuse because she wouldn't just say "Brent--you're a loose-cannon-dork and I can't trust you."

Trump never gave Tammy the opportunity to bring anyone in to the boardroom, he just fired Brent right then and then. There were no heartfelt or even insincere goodbyes. No surprise there. The test will come next week when Brent is gone. Will Synergy perform better or worse without his disruptive presence? So far the teams have been trading victories and no one is dominating the competition--will that change now that Brent is gone?

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