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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Apprentice: Would You Make This Simple Marketing Mistake?

The Apprentice

Is Taking Cheese To France Like Taking Coals To Newcastle?

This time Sir Alan Sugar gave his slowly dwindling band of Apprentices the job of selecting the best of British foods and selling them in a French market.

Now we're all aware that the French are the gourmet nation? So obviously you'd pick food that the French knew about but couldn't get hold of. Or Didn't know about but could easily be persuaded to buy. Wouldn't you?

Equally obviously one of the project managers (Paul) took that to mean anything they buy in Britain is good to ship across the channel and flog!

I'm going to concentrate on Paul's failing, or should I say flailing team, this time. Mainly because they managed to make a complete pig's ear of the whole task.

Paul was the project manager and interestingly enough after he'd been fired and was being debriefed on "You've Been Fired" he said that though he led a team in the Army he relied on his sergeants to give him "advice." Now reading between the lines that sounds like the sergeants tell him what to do and he does it. What do you think?

The first thing Paul did wrong was to buy "cheese" from a wholesaler. He claimed to have been to France and therefore should have known that it has hundreds of cheeses. The one thing they don't need more of is plastic supermarket cheese - however it's packaged.

Then he asked Adam to get a banner designed and made. Adam did and the banner cost £85, after Adam had negotiated the printer's price down from over £100. Compare that to the banner price for the other team - £20.


He bought raft loads of cheap sausages. If you looked at the packets you could immediately see they were mass produced, cheaply packaged sausages.

Then he (give me strength!) bought a large can of beans, ate the beans and used the empty can as a kind of stove. Which anyone who's been in the Scouts, or ... The Army, knows is only used as a last resort. The first thing you do is to get hold of a proper camping gas stove. Why did he need the stove? To produce samples of cooked sausages. It took hours to try and produce anything. Adam struggled manfully to cook them but he'd been given a completely inadequate way of cooking so failed. Nice one Paul. So that's how to motivate the troops is it?

Then he and the other French speaker - Katie went off...

To sell their sausages off at cost price to restaurants before they'd even tried selling them in the market. Talk about panic selling. Not content with that he started selling them at a loss by including a free black pudding with three packs of sausages.

Tre, I actually felt a little sorry for him, was left to sell without any real idea of selling in French.

Also selling tea to the French? The world's greatest coffee drinkers - who'd think to do that Paul?

Wonder of wonders Kristine actually used some commonsense and found a kitchen in a restaurant that would allow her to cook some sausages. So they could provide samples. Then the sausages began selling.

However, it was too little too late.

Paul's team loaded up the van with everything they'd failed to sell and dumped it in a large bin near the ferry port. Why didn't they just give it to local schools, colleges or other deserving causes in France?

Anyway, to say I was truly under impressed would be like saying Mount Everest is a bit of a hill.

Of course Paul got fired. To have anything else would have been a complete travesty. So well done and good riddance.


Was The Firing Deserved?

You bet!

I lost count of the many ways Paul managed to mis-manage and de-motivate his team.

As Sir Alan said during the firing process he wasn't expecting Paul to buy "the best of British" food from the wholesaler. That was meant to get incidentals. You know like a camping gas stove.

You know what's coming...

STRATEGY, that's what was completely and sadly lacking in Paul's management and his team generally.


Rob Artisan said...


I think that the affair between Paul and Katie did not help, see salacious papers for details


Jim Symcox said...

Chortle, snigger

Of course as I do PR too I have to read those papers too, so to them it's obvious that was why he was fired.

Just like Adam was fired for not being handsome enough and Gerri or Natalie because they didn't swan around in a swimsuit...

Cue yet more sniggering. Gosh it's the weekend, hurrah!


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