Business and Leadership Lessons From the Apprentice – Marketing

This weeks task in the Apprentice was all about creating and marketing a pet food.

The task was all about creating a brand and a marketing campaign that they would pitch to a group of market specialists.

This week saw Vincent in charge of Logic and Glen in charge of Venture.

Logic were tasked with Dog food and Venture with Cat.

Logic started out by brainstorming ideas for a brand after asking who was a dog owner. The quickly decided on a brand which would be ‘Any Dog’, with a play that in future that could be extended to Any Cat, Any Fish etc…

One of the team challenged this to say it’s maybe too broad and that they should be more specific to a market.

Venture’s brainstorm was a little more chaotic in that they were not clear about the objective of the session and they went slightly off track, leaving the session without a clear idea.

On the way to a Focus Group, half of team Venture came up with an idea for the brand of Luck Fish, playing on a goldfish being lucky that the cat preferred the food. This idea was pitched to the focus group which they liked.

Logic pitched their Any Dog idea to their focus group and the feedback was that it was too broad, and maybe would anger dog owners. Never the less, this and the previous challenge was dropped and the project manager decided to plough on.

Although there were challenges and after the decision had been made, team Logic united and got on with the task.

Whilst at the focus group, the Team Manager of Venture came up with his own branding idea – Cat Size, a play on Cats Eyes on the road, but linked to cat’s loosing weight. The other half of the team disagreed this was the right way to go based on the feedback from the focus group. However, the decision was made very quickly to ignore the focus group and go with the Cat Size idea.

Both teams worked quite well in getting a voice over together for the advert. But, the advert itself saw a few challenges.

A few members of team Logic put forward ideas for the advert that were ignored. In Venture, the Team Manager took responsibility for this – maybe taking on a bit to much.

Whilst this was happening, other members of the team were asked to prepare a pitch. Logic thought about the person to pitch where as Venture handed this to Leon. Leon explained that he was uncomfortable with this, but this was ignored.

During the pitch, this un-comfort became clear as Leon simply reeled off a list of points, where as Logic’s pitch was very fluid.

All in all, and although the team were split over the name and Leon struggled with the pitch, Venture posted a win. The feedback from the professionals was that the product through to pitch flowed well. Although Logic’s TV ad was better, Venture had a selling point. Logic’s was too broad.



There are two sets of lessons to learn here:-

From a Marketing point of view:

Be clear about your target market – If you try to span an idea too broad, you run the risk of alienating everyone. Pick a range of people and build a product to meet that. This was raised more than once in team Logic and ultimately they paid the price for this.

Act on Your Market Research – Both teams chose to ignore the feedback from their focus groups. Venture were luck as they had no feedback on their idea, only the original. If they did go with the first idea, would the outcome have been any different. Again, this is the reason why Logic lost the task.

Don’t waste time on tasks if you are not going to follow through – Don’t waste time carrying out tasks if you are not going to do anything with it. Team Venture spent a morning at a focus group and did nothing with this. Maybe this time could have been better used.

Pick a Unique Selling Point – Make sure that your product has something to offer. Again, too broad and you will miss your market. What are the Features, Advantages and Benefits of your product? Ensure this forms part of your marketing campaign.

From a Leadership point of view:

Delegate the right tasks to the right people – If someone says that don’t have the skills to do something then don’t give them that task. Venture had this feedback from Leon who was asked to do the pitch, this was ignored and it was clear that he was the wrong person from the job.

Before you make any decisions, listen to the teams feedback – The team challenged a lot of things in this task. It was clear that due diligence was not done on these challenges and the Team Managers went with their own ideas.

Don’t rely on one person, use the team – Vincent relied heavily on Jim in his team, the person who came up with the ‘Any’ idea. He listened maybe a bit too much to him and not he others. Vincent didn’t bring Jim back to the board room – a tactic that backfired.

In the end, Ellie was fired due to lack of input in other tasks. But, in a surprise twist so was Vincent for being a little tactical and not bringing the main culprit for failing the task back.

Next week, it’s all about rubbish!!!!

We offer a range of courses on Marketing and Leadership that will help avoid the mistakes above. Click here to see a list of the courses we offer.