Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Apprentice Series 7: Episode 7

I'm a bit behind, I know.  I can only apologise.  It's been a good (i.e. bad) couple of weeks with our friends the apprentices though, so do stay tuned.

So, week 7, and they're off to Fleet Street, but not before a shot of Leon putting on his socks, which are The Same As Mine!  How exciting.  They're from Next, in case you're interested.

Apparently The Big Thing at the moment is free premium magazines ('Freemiums'); personally I have never encountered these (you tend not to, when you never really leave the house), but it seems they're big in London and other Important Places.  The idea is that you produce a magazine and then people pay you to advertise in it.  So that's what they have to do this week.

Jim is put in charge of his lot (Zoe, Glenn and Susan), and Natasher (yeah?) is put in charge of her lot (Leon, Lovely Tom, Melody, and Helen).  They go to see a bloke who tells them that it's a good idea to have stuff in on time and to produce stuff people will actually read.  Glorious.

They have to start by identifying target markets.  Natasher (yeah?) is quick to decide that (yeah) a lads' mag is the way forward, innit, although the rest of them don't really like it, and the team consists of Lovely Tom, Leon, Melody and Helen.  I've seen more laddish WI flower arranging demonstrations.  They have a brainstorming session, with Lovely Tom on whiteboard duty.  He writes down their ideas: "fashion", "boobs", "women" and "nacked girls" [sic].  Bless.  They're all a bit worried that classy advertisers might not want to tout their wares opposite pictures of nacked girls, apart from Natasher (yeah, innit?) who screams that "porn sells".  Heh.  Yeah.  Sells more porn mags; and I heard that Mercedes-Benz are thinking of edging into that market.

Lovely Tom hauls the tone out of the gutter, suggesting that they focus on business and entrepeneurs.  "Does that translate into boring?" says Natasher.  No.  No, Natasher, it does not.

Team Jim opt for the over-60s market, which they know absolutely nothing about, at all, in any way.  Fortunately, they find a focus group they can ignore.  They go to a bowling club, and patronise a roomful of people who hate every single one of their ideas.  Mainly this is because their ideas are crap.  One guy says he reads The Economist; Susan asks if it would be good to have puzzles in there to aid his memory.  Susan annoys me.  Their ideas for names are also universally dreadful: they seem to be confusing the magazine with a cheap margarine. Vitalife. Joy. Radiance. Eternal.  The old people suggest 'Zimmer'.

Lovely Tom and Helen go to see a rugby team, who want their mag to be tasteful, and businessy, and classy, and to not involve boobs or nacked women at all.  Natasher's having none of it.  Helen suggests calling it 'Covered', and Lovely Tom agrees, and it's actually not at all bad.

Susan and Glenn are stunned at how their ideas for names are all very cliched, so they phone Jim and come up with some even worse ones.  Pension Mention. The Old Boot. Golden Oldie.  For The Old-Looking Young-Hearted.  Zoe saves the day with 'Hip Replacement'.  Susan hates it, not because it's hideous, but because it's a bit sensitive.  They're going to be all satirical, is the thing.

Leon and Natasher (innit) are doing all they can to drag Covered back into the gutter, with an article called "Blow your load", and cover photos of a woman in a bikini, carrying a surf board, and wearing a hard hat and Lovely Tom's glasses and jacket.  Over at Hip Replacement, some over-60s are giving each other piggy backs and doing star jumps, because it is clearly so ludicrous that anyone of that age can still stand up.  That's where the satire comes from, see.  Glenn choses the final image, which is of a lady in a cardigan and a man in a sensible jumper holding on to each other and smiling. Meanwhile, Jim is sucking every last ounce of satire and irony out of the thing, and they end up producing a booklet which would not be out of place in the leaflet rack of a GP Surgery.

Now the mags need some content.  'Cos otherwise they'd just be crap.

Melody and Natasher (yeah?) are out on the streets asking random strangers "How do you blow your load?", and not really getting any answers, because it's not 1991.  Jim's lot have come up with a ton of patronising drivel, including an article on how to make a phone call.  Do these people really not know anyone over the age of sixty?  Given that they are largely in their late 20's or early 30's, one assumes they have parents, or aunts and uncles, or friends of parents, or neighbours in the over-60's bracket.  Give my mum a magazine on how to make a phone call, and she'll beat you round the head with it and put the photos on Facebook.

Anyway, now that they've made their mags, they have to sell the advertising space.  Covered doesn't look too bad, but Hip Replacement is truly dreadful.  Still, Jim's not backing down on the price; he loves his mag, and the advertisers ain't getting in there for free.  Or cheap.  Or at any kind of reasonable price.  This is probably ok, though, since they all hate it anyway.  They don't so much despise the idea, as the actual execution.  But even the idea is probably ok only when placed next to the execution.

We do get to see some quality negotiation though.  Natasher (yeah?) wants to charge £2000 per page.  The advertising woman only wants to pay £1500.  So they agree that she'll pay £1500.  Then Jim goes in, and for some reason she's now prepared to pay £2000 per page, which he accepts without discussion.  In the final pitch, he does go for a bit of wheeler-dealer; the guy wants 50% off the price; Jim thinks this is 'bold'; the woman says they should give it to them free; we go back to the 50% idea.

Off to the boardroom for the results, which are largely that neither magazine was great, but that the nacked girls were less terrible than the threat of age-related orthopaedic surgery, so Team Natasher get sent off to go fencing, which I'm not sure is that much of a treat, and Lovely Tom nearly gets killed.

The concensus on Team Crapski is that it was all Jim's fault for not reducing the price, although Susan points out that it was ridiculous to aim for a market as foreign and unknown as senior citizens, and Jim blames Zoe for coming up with a rubbish name.  Which is not an argument he was using a couple of weeks ago, after the Every Dog farce.

The back-to-the-boardroom bit is a bit dull, with a lot of shouting at Susan for not being against their terrible idea loudly enough, and Lord Shugagh being all offended at the article about making a phone call, because even Nick the Dinosaur knows how to do that, and look how old he is.  Jim describes Susan as Bambi and 'a meek little mouse', and then proceeds to club her round the head with a baseball bat.  Not literally, although that would have been worth watching.

Nick seems to hate Jim,and  Karren's not that fond of him either. Susan thinks it's all very unfair because she said all sorts of wonderful things and no one seems to remember.  So Glenn gets fired for being an engineer, because that's always a good principle to use.

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