Apprentice
Cereal Killers

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 1 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Lesson Four: How To Sell Brent Michael Buckman Down The River Once Again

In the Post offices, we see everybody eating PGNTMC by the handful. (I didn't know anybody on this show ate, besides Brent, although sometimes Tarek cooks.) Tammy asks the members of the group who among them has previously presented to executives, and Brent raises his hand and says that he...hasn't. But he would like to. Andrea and Roxanne quietly wonder why he brought up that irrelevant info. Tammy nods, and says that she was thinking about putting Brent on "clothing" for the event: "Coordinating clothing." A better word choice, or a more complicated task, this might have flown, but "coordinating clothing" is so obviously French for "sucking on your own toes for the duration" that I can't really blame Tammy for how badly it goes. Which, to be fair, is not as badly as it has in previous episodes, because I do think Brent is capable of adjusting his behavior somewhat. Even Roxanne laughs when Tammy says it, like, "Ouch!" Sean rolls his eyes and interviews that "there is absolutely no way we're going to let Brent present," because they don't "trust him with anything. Absolutely anything!" All Sean is, so far, is like this black box machine that takes the prevailing sentiment, cokes it up, and then spits it out again in British. "PGNTMC is delicious!" "Brent Buckman is disgusting!" "We are fantastic!" Oh, and then there's the fact that Sean is a terrible public speaker, but all the PMs keep assigning him to present because of his accent and -- counterintuitively, from where I'm sitting -- his looks. So those are two things. All of which amount to a business acumen roughly equivalent to...that of Mr. Donald Trump, whose fame quotient is basically based on the fact that he used to be rich and now pretends to scream at nobody at all on the telephone while being filmed.

Ivanka enters in a cool navy shrug-with-vest outfit. She's so cool. Tammy gets that PM voice they always get when the Viceroys enter, but tones it down more than most: "How are we going to capture people's attention?" Brent wants to go with a health message, about weight loss, and wants to have a bathroom scale feature heavily into the image. Which is, I suppose, an original concept in that nobody has ever used it, but the whole accusatory campaign is a very dicey one. Even a gym campaign is usually predicated more on either incredibly sexy, headless people working out in a sweaty, sexy way ("You could fuck this lady if you lost some pounds!") or on how fun and not-at-all inconvenient or heart-killing the experience will be ("Come to Curves! An invigorating obstacle course hidden far from the sight of menfolk!") -- only actual weight-loss programs occasionally stray into "Go weigh yourself right this second, fatty," and even then they have a seemingly friendly moderately-weighted lady telling you how great it's going to be. (Although I will tell you right now if the price of weight loss is having to hang out with Kirstie Alley's crazy ass, I'd rather be fat.) Allie also points out that this strategy wouldn't really point up the "newness" of the PGNTMC, because "the old Grape-Nuts was healthy, too," which is very insightful and a good response. Since nobody knows what they are talking about besides Brent, he registers this less as an acknowledgment and rebuttal, and more of an outright rejection based on playground politics. His face falls. If this didn't happen, it wouldn't be Brent. Much like the next thing that happens: Tammy asks for other ideas, and Brent has one: "Try [PGNTMC], and kick-start your ten pounds-plus weight loss today!" Everybody is irritated and Tammy makes Brent agree -- to Ivanka's subtle nod -- that this is old ground and that they should be moving on. He does so graciously. It's not that sophisticated to remark on the irony of Brent's diet obsession, but I will say this: he's got the aspirational market down pat. He looks at the product and thinks, "What would make me buy this?" And there are two answers that you can count on: "I will magically lose weight and somehow thus become likable," and/or "the hands of a stranger on my naked, pale flesh." Which makes him a good guinea pig. But the point of advertising is being able to jump back and forth over that fence: I'll buy it, but I'm not the only audience. What's the broadest possible appeal? In other words, asking Brent to consider the thoughts and needs of other people, which makes him half of a valuable team member on this marketing task. Which is half more than usual. In other words:

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Apprentice

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