The world of corporate branding, no matter what the experts tell you, is dominated by one cold, hard rule. Mark E Smith put it best when he garbled some brilliant, unrelated nonsense about the ‘three Rs’ – ‘repetition, repetition, repetition’. Repeat your brand name at any given opportunity – stamp it into the empty, blinkered heads of the masses. Flash your logo whenever you can. One word intertwined with one image, and there you have your branding. Repeat it a mind-numbing amount of times and pray that your target is stuck with it for life. And that, as we all know, is what corporate branding is.
In this series of the Apprentice it’s becoming clear that the tasks are structured a lot more rigidly. Essentially it boils down to this: listen to the brief, word-for-word. Follow it to the letter. Don’t allow peripheral annoyances to bother you and you’ll win. Sugar say: ‘best of British produce’ – get the finest quality Brit foodstuffs you can lay your paws on. Sugar say: ‘Get all the products on the list’, don’t worry about a bit of tardiness. It’s actually amazing how this hasn’t sunk in for some of our cast of hopefuls, but still, it hasn’t. Meaning the quality of the series remains.
Incidentally, Sugar was on Jonathan Ross last week, and he slagged off the likes of me, calling us armchair critics a yiddish word (‘kvetsch’, possibly?) which sums up those who mock without trying. He has a point, but nevertheless, let’s focus on where the losing team fucked up, and balls to Sir Alan.
Ghazal was taken up on her offer of being team leader, looking to prove a point as she failed to shine last week. She led a team of girls – Naomi, Kristina and Katie. Ah – Katie. Dreaded Katie – the scourge of this series. Katie said, at one point, that she hoped Kristina would get fired in a ‘physical sense’. Which suggests she wants Kristina dead. Killed by gunshot. She’s a nice girl, ain’t she?
As Naomi – herself an experienced ad executive – prepared to take a leading role, coming up with an umbrella concept for them to brainstorm (vomit-inducing word), Katie stole the reins from her loose grip and began pushing the name ‘JAM’ for the trainers. It was given to the designers and the logo promptly branded onto the footwear. As the brainstorm (again, horrible word that – can’t believe I’m using it) progressed, Katie coerced Ghazal into using the tired pun on sole/soul, coming up with ‘Music’s In Your Sole’ as a strapline. Not great. They couldn’t tie it into the name JAM (though there is actually a tenuous link), and thus their branding was all over the bleeding shop, to use Sugar parlance.
Jadine, finally at the forefront having skulked in the shadows (has she been on holiday?) took charge of the other team and made the decision to go with an all boy’s group. With Tre, Simon and Lohit on side, she cruised to victory. Despite the utterly woeful advert they produced, they branded heavily. In fact, I’m sick of the word ‘street’, which was the name of their product from the off, alongside the tagline ‘Reclaim the Streets’. Cheesy as a fetid cock, but it sticks in the mind. In fact, it’s indelible, I can still hear Hampstead-boy Simon’s attempt at bustin’ a flow over some urrrrban beats as he told the massive to reclaim the streets. His crap patois is still ringing through my poor shell-likes. Subtle, it was not. Why not get Jadine or Tre to do the voiceover? Admittedly Lohit might not have sold many running-shoes with his softly camp approach.
They also got Simon to do the dancing for the video as they couldn’t find any actual dancers. The sum total of his skillset was the ability to pull off a handstand. Shite-bollocks dancing, Tre called it and I couldn’t have put it better myself. ‘I’m a dance-man’, he repeated to himself, over and over. ‘You’re no 50 cent. More like 2 bob’, Sugar more accurately had it. He seemed tickled by Simon’s performance though, his mask slipping slightly in the boardroom. Golden boy Simon somehow won the day yet again. They all got to make cocktails in the Savoy afterwards, and then put those cocktails in their faces. The lucky bastards.
In the boardroom, fun and games. Ghazal’s tactics of defence were simultaneously clever (bringing back Katie and Naomi – the worst performers) and idiotic (shouting meaningless nonsense whenever asked a question or criticised). Katie largely kept quiet whilst Ghazal needlessly laid into Naomi. We, Katie, Sugar and Ghazal all know that it was Katie’s fault the task was failed, with all her talk of urban consumer ‘Jay’, the street kid she’d invented, presumably drawing on her experience of working with down-and-out Etonians.
When it came to what has now become the regular ‘Katie-dig’ section, she was branded a ‘loser’ by Sugar, having been on the losing team for 6 out of 8 tasks. You can’t really argue with that. Sugar put it in football terms, and 6 points out of a possible 24 is surely relegation form. However, in a slightly artificial moment of drama, Sugar switched from a huge Katie-critique to Ghazal and fired her. Which is a shame as she’s a bit of a smasher in the looks department. Especially when sitting alongside the boardroom face of Katie, which is essentially a rictus grin on a puce/purple backdrop of wobbly skin.
Somehow, Katie holds on. Her card’s marked and she’s disliked by a nation, but somehow her claws remain on the corporate ladder. God willing, she’ll slip spectacularly.