Monday, 24 November 2014

Soft sell

Week 7 – 19th November 2014

HELLO! Welcome back. Last week Rad took you through the great Board Game disaster of 2014, which wasn’t the time that my stepbrother and I had to have an intervention from or respective parents about our 18 hour game of Monopoly. No, it was about Pamela getting the elbow and not Daniel, who is far too fit much comedy value to go at this stage.

Voiceover man informs us that there are 10 candidates left. It already feels like this series has gone on forever, but there’s MOAR.  We begin at Apprentice mansions at 4.30am with Solomon answering his phone in a t-shirt like some kind of RUDDY AMATEUR. They’re going to Mayfair and they have to pack for an overseas business trip. James takes his top off (THAT’S BETTER) and insists that they’re probably going to China. Yep, that’s right, James. You’re all going to China.  Seeing as we’re on childhoods, when I was a kid, my dad used to tell me to close my eyes and drive me up to the middle of nowhere and tell me that I was in all kinds of places. I honestly believed him. I think you could do the same to James. Katie thinks they’re going to Europe. Everyone gets their passports out and James laughs at Mark Wright’s forrin one. James JUST keeps endearing himself, doesn’t he?

In the Apprenticars, Daniel reminds Mark Wright and Lauren that they’ve both been told to pull their fingers out and do some PMing. Lauren says that she’s always PM at work. Mark Wright declares a fight because he wants to be project manager.

They’re at Grosnover Square because they’re at the American Embassy. Lordsir is on a video link because he’s got ‘urgent business’. His head announces that they’re doing a task that’s half here and half abroad. He wants them to design a soft drink for the American market complete with advert, website and digital billboard.  It’s the largest soft drink market in the world and they’ll be pitching in New York but he’ll be deciding what’s best. There’s a rub though. Half the team are staying home and the other half are going away. He wants them to work as a team ACROSS THE TIMEZONES.

Roisin helpfully points out that people might want to go to New York. This kind of sharp, analytical mind is probably what got her this far in BZNZ. Mark Wright thinks that it’s not a holiday. Filipe is EXCITED. AWW. They all go to McGarry-Bowen advertising agency to argue about who’s doing what. We start with Lauren giving her pitch to be PM. She’s got strong leadership and she has local knowledge of New York. Mark Wright wants to put his pole firmly in the ground (ooh err) because apparently, this is what he does on a daily basis. Hewer is sceptical and interviews that he’s lying about working in advertising. He’s a sales manager, not a creative. Filipe manages to swing it for Mark. Nick interviews that Lauren always just seems to miss out. Funny that. Next up is arguing about who is going to America. Lauren insists it’s her because Local Knowledge again. Katie thinks it should be her because she made a video once and Daniel thinks that the pitch is the most important thing he can do.

Down the hall, James is claiming that American’s love him. No James, nobody does. I’m guessing even your parents struggle. Bianca seems to have taken charge and is definitely seeing herself in America, surprisingly. She’s seeing Roisin in the UK, as she does Sanjay. Sanjay, funnily enough, sees things differently.  Mark Wright is bringing Lauren and Filipe with him and leaving Daniel and Katie behind. Daniel is going to work his actual nuts off and he and Mark Wright have a little bromance moment about how they’ve got each others’ backs. Daniel immediately interviews that he doesn’t trust Mark as far as he could throw him with the pitching but he’s going to how Lordsir and the WORLD that he can even excel in areas that he’s not good at. To be fair, Daniel, you haven’t really shown you can excel in the areas that you’re supposed to be good at, but we’ll let that one slide.

We’re pinning down drinks before we go. Lauren does a bit of a snide “If it were me” thing and suggests a coconut water based drink. Mark wants a healthy drink that isn’t too in your face healthy. Daniel wants something “rememorable”, like “Love Water”. Seriously.

Over with the others, Solomon suggests an energy drink and nobody can be arsed to argue. Bianca does a generic motivational speech and wants to reach the SUMMIT. I SEE WHAT YOU DID, THERE. James then attempts an American accent that actually makes me want to claw my face off with embarrassment. They’re off to the airport and discussing branding on the way. They’ve decided on Big Dawg. James is still doing that thing when he alienates the woman in the trio by chumming up to the man, because that’s never getting dull. Bianca sighs heavily that she’s got three days of this. Yeah, you do. And you deserve a ruddy medal. [If I were PM, I would leave him on whatever team I wasn't just to get three days' respite - Rad]

Half of the other team are in rainy Luton, mixing up the drink. That’s some confusing editing. They’re having pineapple, Lychee and raspberry in their drink, because these are three of Daniel’s favourite fruits. They’re putting in vitamins and deciding that they’ve created a soft drink for the mass market.  Of course you would think that. The bitter half of Sommat are creating an energy drink with funky fruits in it, as is allegedly the trend and suggests Dragonfruit.  We have a montage of Roisin and Sanjay tasting energy drinks and being unable to make a decision. He interviews that they worked well together and he’s not AT ALL bitter that he’s been working whilst they’ve been on a plane.

But MERKA! They’re here! It’s 8am New York time. James is hyped up. He’s amazed at the long, wide streets. I get the feeling that James being amazed is going to be a bit of a theme. By the miracle of television though, Tenacious D’s drink has arrived before them. Filipe moans that it just tastes of pineapple, as all good love water should. Mark Wright thinks its fine that it tastes of pineapple because he’d rather it was dull and work than be adventurous horrendous. They speak to the group at home and they decide on AQUA FUSION a tagline of “hydrated, healthier and happier”. Daniel wants an exploding pineapple splash on the label. They leave it with Daniel. Over with Sommat, they’re pulling faces at the passion fruit energy drink. Bianca says that it’s sour. Sanjay just denies that it’s sour. James then says that in his bar, passion fruit doesn’t taste like that. This just unleashes Sanjay’s not so inner bitch, and he straight up tells him that if he was such an expert on flavours, maybe he should’ve stayed home and worked on them. James makes faces whilst Bianca “feels his negativity”. Sanjay says he’s not being negative, James’ mum is negative so ner. Roisin sums up everyone’s feelings by saying that anyone that listens to James is a fool. A FOOL.

Tenacious D hit the street and test out their pineapple love water on the locals. It’s mostly positive. Filipe tells someone that it’s flavoured with leech. Nick Hewer interviews that it’s all a bit meh. Back in London, the other half of the team are designing the label and they get a phone call from Lauren telling them that the label should be exactly how Daniel had already told them it should be. Katie basically says, “Yes, that’s what Daniel said” and Lauren claims that it’s totally different. Ok then. Daniel interviews that Lauren just wants a free holiday and she’s offered nothing.

Sommat are testing out their energy drink in New York. Going with the animal theme, Sommat have Dragonfly in their drink.  People seem to like it in the same underwhelming way they liked Love Water. James feels that they need to live up to the brand, which is handy because they haven’t told the branding team what they want. Bianca then tells them finally that they’re calling it BIG DAWG. Bianca says that it’s aspirational and it stands out. Roisin clearly thinks it stands out as being shit, as does the graphic designer’s cat.

Tenacious D are doing their advert. As an advert director, Filipe seems to be a pretty good lawyer. They’re auditioning people for their advert. Filipe interviews that he’s enjoying being creative and smashing lawyer tropes. Over with Sommat, James and Solomon go full on creep trying to find women to be in the Big Dawg advert. They argue over who the model fancies more. Bianca urges them to take it seriously and interviews as such. It’s the most sexist and appalling 2 minutes I’ve ever seen on this show.

Magic of TV time again, the drinks have arrived. Sommat love Big Dawg. Tenacious D are unhappy with theirs. Filipe feels that it doesn’t stand out. Mark Wright doesn’t think it’s clear enough that it’s allegedly healthy and Lauren doesn’t think anything. Mark Wright interviews that he’s disappointed in the product but all this means is that he’s going to work harder.

Sanjay and Roisin are still in London. They’re designing their digital billboard. Roisin talks them through it and ends with the question “what dog would you be”. Bianca would like an explanation. Roisin tries to explain that people might want to think about whether they’re Snoopy or a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel or some other dog shit that I have no interest in. Bianca makes it clear that she doesn’t want this on her advert because it’s about how energy drinks supplement their lifestyle. Sanjay loses his shit quite significantly at this point because basically they’ve done all the work and Bianca hasn’t been clear about what she wants. He’s got a point. She’s sorry he feels like that and pulls out the negative line again. Karren is totally team Sanjay because she has eyes and ears. Karren interviews that they better look sharp if they want to work with Lordsir. James tells Bianca that she should’ve been in the UK.

Over with Tenacious D, Filipe has turned into a minor despot trying to get his advert directing. Lauren is in the advert with a ridiculous American accent. Mark Wright interviews that Filipe may be a bit overwhelmed as Filipe screams in people’s faces for not catching bottles of Aqua Fusion correctly. Mark Wright interviews that he had to calm Filipe down on three separate occasions, including one that we see. Oh Filipe, your enthusiasm much outweighs your skill.

Over with Sommat, Bianca is taking the more hands on approach and is directing herself.  She’s making James her assistant to keep him out of trouble. Solomon is going to be in the advert. Bianca interviews that her advert is going to be about young people telling their stories about energy drinks. Maybe I could tell the story about the time I got off my face on vodka redbulls and started pole dancing at the now defunct Canal Club in Wolverhampton? Wow, we’re getting deep today. I like it. I didn’t know that this recap would turn into a bit of a therapy session. Anyway, if we thought Filipe was bad, Bianca is now having a go at Solomon for letting the sun be in his eyes as he spouts some drivel about Big Dawg helping him work hard and play harder. Karren, who is suddenly in America, interviews that they’re supposed to have a big, brash brand but there’s no excitement in him. She’s appalled that Bianca thinks everyone is fine. Surely that if everyone was off their tits on energy drinks it would be an AMAZING advert. [As it was, it was like they were all on sleeping tablets - Rad]

Back with Tenacious D, they’re cutting the advert and Lauren is doing that thing where she’s giving everyone’s ideas back to them as her own. Mark Wright is frustrated with her, and interviews as such. He’s not sure about her contribution. The Big Dawg team are getting on slightly better with each other. James seems pleased, in a manner that shows he’s been at the Big Dawg himself.

Never mind that, though. It’s time for the pitches.  First though, a detour round Times Square and some mixed reactions to the advert. Mark Wright acts like he’s on some advertising religious pilgrimage, Filipe actually tears up and James bounds around like slightly smaller dawg. He’s going to smash the pitch and declares that the world is as big as his oyster. His brain is as big as his oyster.

They’re pitching to representatives from the ad industry, people from Clear Channel and drinks people Vita Coco, Fevertree and Britvic. The British sections of the team are watching on video link for ultimate torture factor. Summat are first. They spend the first minute of their pitch giving out the drinks whilst James complements everyone in the room individually. He begins the pitch by saying that he want to create a global brand. Bianca talks about bright colours and the American Dream. The whole thing reminds me of that time on Family Guy when Lois Griffin gets elected to council by saying 9/11 over and over again to a crowd of braying sycophants. They watch the advert. Nobody isn’t embarrassed. Even people that aren’t watching know that something terrible is happening somewhere. They open the floor for questions. The first one is about why their advert has no music. Bianca says that it’s about making an emotional connection and not just about high octane cars and stuff. It’s not unusual, apparently, it’s different and it’s about having it ALL. Next question is about whether the bone in BIG is a cock or not. I shit you not. James enjoyed the pitch. Bianca tells him off a bit for going rogue but its fine because it was good rogue.

Tenacious D’s turn. Katie and Daniel whine about not being there. Daniel wanted his chance to pitch in America and Katie wonders whether Lauren being a sourpuss lawyer is going to be a problem. (SPOILER – MAYBE). Mark Wright leads the pitch. Mark tells everyone about how they’re a beautiful rainbow of a team. Lauren takes over and messes it all up as Daniel critiques every minor part or her performance. Their advert is terrible. A man in the audience asks why they didn’t talk about fruit in the advert. Lauren is worried about making spurious health claims. IN AMERICA. Oh dear. Mark Wright interviews that he thinks it went well. Advertising is his job and advertising is on his business plan and he knows his team did a good job. He’s going a long way in the process. Daniel and Katie continue to pick apart Lauren’s performance but he grudges that Mark was ok at doing a pitch. Bianca interviews that everything is wonderful and ace apart from the London team, who are equally pissed off at not being listened to despite doing most of the work. Sanjay declares the advert “the boring thing I’ve ever seen in my life”.

As the others go back to America, Lordsir gets a conference call from the Merkans. They seem to like Sommat’s bold marketing and ideas but their advert was “borderline tragic”. Tenacious D had a better advert, but the brand and advert were a bit more wishy washy. So who will win arbitrarily? Let’s wait and see.

Everyone is in the boardroom. Lordsir explains that the task was all about launching a soft drink for the American Market. He starts with Tenacious D. Mark Wright felt confident that he could win this task and lead the team well. He explains that he split the team based on who was best to go to America. Lordsir wonders how that went down. Daniel explains that he felt that staying at home was his opportunity to show him that he could do other things whilst having Mark back him 100%. Lordsir introduces AQUA FUSION in a manner that suggests he is unimpressed. He doesn’t think that it would stand out on a shelf. Filipe agrees. Lordsir says that everything is based around the drink and the drink is very very bland. He actually thinks that Mark Wright may have been a bit of a fool to claim that the task was his thing but to leave the success of it to Daniel and Katie. He tries to claim he made the right choices but seems to fail to convince even himself of this. Lordsir hopes that the advert and poster make it better. Oh they really won’t.  Lordsir tries to interpret the advert. He then attempts a joke about Lauren being left on the shelf, much like the drink and absolutely nobody laughs. On to the pitch. Daniel begins a sentence with “I’m not here to make friends” then proceeds to rip into everyone’s pitching style, including Lauren’s enthusiasm.

Over with Sommat, Bianca claims to have invented the business trip, in that she decided that they weren’t going to New York for fun. Karren says what everyone is thinking, in that there was no way that James wasn’t going to New York. James spouts some horseshit about his personality being suited to America and Lordsir says that of course it is, he’s also loud and obnoxious. On to the brand name. James said he wanted something big that stood out and that’s where they got BIG DAWG from.  He says “dawg” in an approximation of an American accent. Lordsir then moves on to the bone/boner confusion then moves on to Sanjay complaining about everything. Sanjay admits it took him a couple of days to get on board with the concept. Bianca calls this an understatement and he spent three days being a bitch about everything. Sanjay, of course, thinks this is unfair. James hops in and says that he’s sympathetic towards the UK team because they could’ve done with more direction from Bianca. Or him, as Karren points out. Sanjay can’t resist getting a dig in about James suddenly becoming an expert on flavours once his feet were safely on American soil.  I want to go out for coffee and bitching with Sanjay please. They watch the advert. Lordsir declares it more Chihuahua than Big Dog. Mark Wright laughs at that a bit too hard. Pipe down mate, your pineapple love water is more shit than anything else ever. Lordsir wants to know the concept, because he doesn’t get it. Bianca explains that it’s about a skateboarder that uses energy drinks. Lordsir wonders why Solomon is in it in that case, as he’s hardly Mark Zukerberg. Solomon just looks like an idiot whilst Bianca calls him an “aspiring” entrepreneur. SHADE. He then makes reference to Joan Baez under the tree and it’s clear nobody knows what he’s talking about. We move on to the pitch. Bianca thought it was positive. Karren agrees.

So what’s the verdict? Adverts! Sommat’s was a complete and utter joke, Tenacious D’s was marginally less shit but the rest of the campaign was too dull for the American market. Big Dawg was more of an American brand and had a marginally better concept and their digital signage was better. He’s thought about it and Tenacious D were slightly more rubbish. Summit win! James immediately says “Big Dawg rocks” to indifference and a “you can’t help yourself” from Lordsir. He takes this as a compliment. Oh dear. They’re going out for dinner at the top of Tower 42.

To the losers! They’re off to have some blame tea whilst Sommat argue over which half of the team was the worst. Answer: you both were. Over in Losers’ Caff, Mark Wright is pointing the finger of blame firmly at the brand. Daniel isn’t having that and says that he was very creative and maybe if the team had had a collective vision it would’ve been better. Daniel interviews that he’s an easy target to take back into the board room but the advert was just as useless. Mark Wright interviews that his London team may well have been shit but at least they were doing something, unlike Lauren.

We’re back in the boardroom. Lordsir says that Mark Wright was very forceful in wanting to be PM because this was his day job but it’s not even his day job. Mark Wright says it is and that he’s a sales manager for a digital marketing company. Lordsir insinuates that this might be a bit of a made up job. Mark doesn’t give anything in his answer that would indicate to the contrary. Daniel rolls his eyes. Lordsir pins this down further and asks if he’s involved in anything creative. He hasn’t. Lordsir then claims that he’s forgotten more about Marketing than Mark Wright has ever learned and that even he knows that the starting point for any advertising campaign is the product and even the best salesman can’t sell rubbish [this week.  Don't recall that usually being an issue on this show.  MOAR BASIL! - Rad]. Err, I don’t think that’s anything to do with BZNZ KNWLDG, that’s just common sense. Apparently AQUA FUSION is both insipid AND dull and looks like what Big Dawg would do up a lamp post. Lordsir then moves on to question Mark Wright’s team decisions. He said he felt that Katie was best placed to make flavour decisions and Daniel was insistent on a chance to show his creative side. Lordsir questions the logic keeping your friends close and putting your enemies in charge. Good question. Daniel says that he may well be a salesman but he put everything into being creative.  Lordsir disses pretty much everything about the product and Filipe does a James and suddenly becomes an expert on branding and the American market. Katie rightly says that if he knows so much he should’ve stayed at home. On to the advert, and Filipe is accused of going into Felini mode. Filipe thinks his advert did what it was supposed to. Lordsir declares him as deluded as Daniel, which is quite a diss, really. The advert is apparently indefensible and Filipe agrees. Today’s best Lordsir dad joke comes next, which is that New York is the city that never sleeps, but the advert put everyone to sleep. AHAHA! Notice how it’s only rich people that can get away with making jokes like that and having people laugh, because you need FEAR.

Attention turns to Lauren. What is she even FOR? Lauren claims to have invented drinks that combine fruit and water. Mark Wright cannot hand on heart say what she did. She disagrees, of course. Katie jumps in and says that the initial concept came from all of them. Mark Wright jumps back in and all Lauren can say is that she hasn’t finished. Ah, the last grasp of the hopeless. Karren jumps in that she was in the advert and Nick said that she did say some words in the pitch. There you go. Lordsir isn’t done though, and feeds back that the grownups said that it was a cautious pitch and they made the Piers Morgan of drinks. Steady on! It’s not that bad. [Didn't Piers Morgan win the US sleb 'Prentice?  And lose the UK one?  Oh LdSralan and your international spats with Piers and Trumpy - Rad]

Who’s coming back though? Well, Lauren of course, and Mark Wright is also regrettably bringing back in Daniel. Lordsir notices that he’s clear about Lauren but can see that he isn’t sure about Daniel but he’s sure he’ll find out why. Everyone gets sent out and it’s the Karren/Nick/Lordsir chat. Lordsir wonders if the salesman may have sold out and wonders what Lauren actually does. Karren says that her pitch was more of a sermon. Karren says that Mark Wright produced a terrible product with his first go as PM but Nick is impressed at his honesty.

They’re back! Lordsir wants to know whether Mark and Daniel are just oil and water or is there a real reason he’s back? Mark Wright says that he’s responsible for the logo. Daniel jumps in and Lordsir has to let Mark Wright finish. Mark Wright says that Daniel is usually a turkey on tasks and today was no exception, but he didn’t want it to look like sour grapes or a personality thing. Daniel wants to know if this is true, where is Katie. Mark says that he has a feeling that the things that were wrong with the task were to do with Daniel and anyway, Katie picked the ingredients. Daniel says that he picked three of the ingredients so ner. This pushes Mark over the edge and he says that he was right to bring him in because he doesn’t like people that talk rubbish and if he had a pound for every time Daniel said something stupid he’d already have the £250k and wouldn’t need to be here. Daniel wonders how long Mark has been waiting to say that for. AGES, would be my guess. Daniel then says that he can see through Mark and tries to play the “I may not be educated” card because we all know how much Lordsir values an education, but fails when he’s unable to say “articulate”.  Mark is EMPTY at BZNZ and Daniel had to pull the task along. Lordsir wants to know what led to the BZNZ DCSN to put yellow on yellow on yellow? Daniel 100 PERCENT agrees. That’s not even an Apprentice percentage. Get out.

So whose fault is it? Daniel isn’t going to scapegoat anyone but he’s totally scapegoating Lauren. Lauren says that to say she’s outraged to be in the boardroom is an understatement and she contributed LOADS. She even wonders what Mark did. Mark was the PM so he was involved in everything. She then talks lots and says little and ends it with the fact that she wanted to be PM and it didn’t happen. She accuses Mark of misrepresenting himself to get a holiday in New York. She blames Mark for the failure of the task. Mark blames her. Mark grudgingly admits that Daniel at least did something. Lauren claims that nothing was to do with her. Mark says that’s exactly right. Oh dear.

Lordsir sums up. Lauren is obviously smart but Nick and Karren say that she tends to stand back. He’s noted that he wanted to see more from her and yet again she’s done nothing. On to Mark. He got the PM job under very tenuous REZOOMAY stretching and perhaps his desire to be PM was about pleasing him rather than him being any good and the only thing he’s proved. Finally, Daniel. He’s not shown himself to be a great presenter or a great salesman and now he’s shown himself to be a shit creative too. He’s not convinced that it’s Daniel’s fault. However, Mark may have made a fatal error in the way he assigned the tasks. He put two lawyers in front of a marketing team and it ended up dull whereas Daniel could’ve at least talked the talk.

He’s made his decision on instinct and that instinct tells him that Lauren isn’t his business partner. In a sedate black Mac she taxiterviews that she’s still really shocked that she ended up in the boardroom, let alone fired and blames the mean boys for ganging up on her. Back at the house, James is claiming individual victory. Everyone makes an uncomfortable noise at the return of Daniel, who claims to be running out of lives.

NEXT WEEK! Join Rad for something to do with the countryside. And what looks like a potential mass firing. Yay!

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