Apprentice
Cereal Killers

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | 1 USERS: A+
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Lesson Four: How To Sell Brent Michael Buckman Down The River Once Again

Synergy's taking pictures of their beautiful girl, who is covered in makeup and looks like Princess Mia. Allie and Roxanne are going crazy like sleazy photographers in the movies, all, "Like that! Like that! Gorgeous! Now show me a smile, she me a sexy little smile, you little minx...excellent! You're so sexy! Carangi, you whore, give me eyes! Eyes! Okay, now hold the bowl over to the...good! You're doing great!" It's not really weird, even with the kissy noises, because Roxanne and Allie are so funny and goofy and nice while they're doing it, so it's weird, but not...bad-weird. Over at the monitors, Sean is, of course, going crazy and getting enthusiasm all over everything. He comes close to shedding literal tears talking out his ass about how it "captured the old and the new," whatever, he's such a shit-talker it doesn't even register. They walkie with the other half of the team, the design project, and it takes Tammy a few seconds to remind Sean that there are two graphics to combine here. They look at the images Andrea and Tammy approved, and both Sean and Allie bitch about it, so I guess the overabundant enthusiasm is just a contact-high thing. He won't tell Tammy and Andrea that he likes it, and compares it to putting just a "box of cereal up on the board," which is what it would be if they weren't doing the photo shoot that he's currently at, and it's clear he's having trouble mentally compositing the whole concept together. Which makes sense, because they now have about fifty words of text -- all in different colors, fonts, sizes, and degrees of lunacy -- and two different graphic images (three if you count the models separately), so it would be hard to imagine unless everybody was really clear on the overall concept. Of which there isn't one, really, beyond "we hate Brent," but the magic of Brent doesn't sell cereal, just bagels.

Gold Rush watches Dan wisecrack deliciously about the different pictures of the woman they abducted: they cut one because of the "crazy eyes," and one with a bowl that's too big. Charmaine has a moment of uncertainty about the pictures, but that's quickly forgotten in the shitstorm of Bryce having a full-on identity crisis about the whole concept. He hates all the pictures, and starts brainstorming a completely different campaign about a bunch of empty cereal boxes. He makes a wimpy face, which catalyzes Charmaine to say "fuck it" and make it work. She interviews that Bryce is "not taking responsibility" for his ideas, and asks him where the enthusiasm went, considering that the whole thing was -- she admits -- his idea. He muffles that he doesn't like "the way it's going," and then clarifies in interview that he's scared because if the thing goes wrong, it'll blow up in his face, and he's "terrified" of ending up in the Boardroom again. Charmaine turns this into a blame-shifting thing, that Bryce is going to pull back on the "this was my idea" thing and go into the problems with execution, but the deal is that they both have a point. They're phrasing it in a weirdly paranoid way, but they both have personal concerns on the line. Charmaine can't have Bryce pulling support due to execution concerns, because that indicts her as a manager, and Bryce can't have her passing the whole idea off on him, because the Viceroys and execs, looking at the finished project, won't see a good idea gone wrong, just a bad presentation, and that will fall at his feet. So Charmaine has to reframe it as a withdrawal of team support, and Bryce...flounders because his only option is to openly withdraw his support from the way things are heading. He admits that he's "second-guessing this entire project," in interview, and Charmaine makes the same jump in the boardroom: "We are not questioning ourselves. We're done." Which is brilliant, because it keeps the momentum, but is also correct. When you lose your way in the woods, you don't have to drive all the way back home and start over -- you find the weak spot and start there. Where you went wrong. Bryce is packing the whole thing into a hands-off responsibility-free box when he should be actively working towards identifying his issues with the project at hand. And Charmaine is awesome for expressing that in the most rah-rah, "Thou Shalt Not Fail To Step Up" way possible, which gets Bryce back on track. This is the first management decision I've been impressed by that didn't have to do with Brent, I think. Very cool.

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