The Apprentice Episode Nine Review: Jenna Whittingham’s ad was just too cheesy but Alan Sugar made a mistake in sending her home!

by Matt D

I think we can all agree that if we ever had a product that needed marketing through some sort of televisual advert we would never hire any Apprentice candidate to conceive or direct it. In the past we’ve had abominations such as breakfast cereal hero Pants Man and Raef’s artistic visions for anti-bacterial tissues, while this week we had Jenna’s take on what a wine advert should be which turned out to be very cheesy indeed.

This week the gist of the task was to raise awareness for the British sparkling wine industry by creating both a website and an online marketing campaign with the winner being decided by a panel of wine experts who will hear as well as see everything that the teams have created. With Phoenix down to three members it would usually be Sugar’s task to re-arrange the teams, however this week he gave the trio free reign to pick whoever they wanted from Team Sterling with the result being a unanimous vote to poach Nick. I’d actually like to see this done every week with the project managers picking their teams as if they were kids picking footballs teams, it would be interesting to see who would be the approximation of the fat kid that would get stuck in goals but my money would be on Steven. As a technology expert Nick seemed like the ideal choice for someone to help build a website, however I do get the sneaking suspicion that he might be one of the mini Boris Johnsons that the London mayor claimed he wanted to start after he won the election, I think it would be wise for Sugar to get a paternity test just to make sure.

After being the losing PM last week it was a bold move for Tom to put himself up once again, however being a wine broker he seemed like the logical choice while new team member Nick was the only other viable candidate. Phoenix definitely had an easier time than Sterling when it came to picking a leader and with all four members wanting the job, it was eventually Ricky who got two votes even though Steven didn’t quite understand the process and wanted to vote for himself. Both project managers took it upon themselves to research the wine by journeying to Denby’s Wine Estate, which for Ricky and Jenna meant a quick crash course in what English Sparkling Wine is all about namely quality and heritage. Tom read the task slightly differently and seemed to go on a day’s boozing with Adam which included a wine-tasting with the novice greengrocer, who again was completely out of his comfort zone, as well as the boys then leading their own tasting later on in the day. Karren was complaining that as project manager Tom shouldn’t have delegated the lion’s share of the jobs to Nick and Jade while he spent the day drinking but that didn’t stop her touring the vineyard with them which I’m sure meant she got to do a bit of sampling herself. Ricky’s sub-team of Steven and Gabrielle did their research at Tescos where she wisely spent her time looking at the colours used on the bottles however he seemed intent on chasing down a staff member who was an expert in sparkling wines. In my opinion even if there was a slightly deranged man chasing after me talking about wine I’d just run away and hide in the stock room for half an hour. In addition to this Steven came up with the brand name Grandeur which Nick Hewer rightly pointed out was French but at least he’d got the spelling right this time so we didn’t have another Bellissimo mishap on our hands.

It was then on to the dreaded advert itself and I for one was surprised that Adam was so perky after the amount of alcohol he seemed to consumed the night before, however he was excited he was able to be a choreographer once again. Having learned this word in week five he now seems convinced that it means putting everybody in their places and making sure they know what they’re doing. Jade meanwhile was bemoaning having to work on another video shoot with Adam but seemed to be acting as the one who actually knew what was going on, in order to create a half-decent advert. Throughout this series Adam seems to have been painted as this buffoon who hasn’t been outside of his fruit and veg stall world and is learning new things every week. I feel that this presentation is a little unfair to him but he doesn’t make it easy on himself when Tom had to explain that champagne was named after the region which Adam compared to the fact that Hoover was a brand name for a vacuum cleaner I have to say this is slightly worse than his Banksy/Stig line from last week.

Ricky had hammered home that he wanted everything in the campaign to focus on quality instructing video directors Jenna and Steven not to make the ad too gimmicky. Though Ricky should’ve watched Jenna’s prop ordering a bit more careful as for me alarm bells would’ve been ringing when she’d order thrones for the bride to sit on. Ricky reinforced this message during the shoot itself where he hammered home the fact that he didn’t want it to be too cheesy. So obviously Steven and Jenna added more cheese than a pack of Dairylea by instructing the actors to ham up their premise as much as possible and using Take That’s Patience as the music to be played over the top of the ad. So when Ricky saw his commercial for the first time his jaw dropped as he saw the cheesy mess that his team had created.

Obviously when they got to speak to the panel, which was headed up by chairman of the English Wine producers Mike Bennett, they straight away picked up on the cheesy quality of the advert calling it flippant. I feel once again Steven lost them points trying to over complicate matters by saying that their tagline – more fizz, less sparkle was working on a subliminal level. The problem the board bought up in terms of Tom’s video was the fact that it was just like every sparkling wine advert but for me at least it did follow the brief in promoting a home-grown product easily recognisable with their ESW label. The board also bought up the fact that Nick’s website had a problem in terms of the stockists not being able to input when they’d run out of a certain product. The panel then rung up Lord Sugar leaving cryptic clues about which team they thought had best followed the brief and whose video was just plain awful.
The whole task was picked over in great detail with Steven coming under fire for using a French name for an English product and not controlling Jenna more on the video shoot. Meanwhile Tom also was chastised for a boring advert and a problematic website before Sugar decided that his team had actually done enough to win. I have to say I’m not a fan of these websites in which it’s all down to opinion however in this case I’d have to agree because the ESW symbol was more of an easy system to follow than the Less Fizz More Sparkle Tagline. Ricky also shot himself in the foot a little throughout by claiming that he thought Tom would put himself over too much, as he did last week, and he wasn’t bothered about the competition adding to this in the boardroom by claiming it was a David Vs. Goliath situation. At the end of the day it came down to the advert being deemed too cheesy, which was a word that was used almost as strategy was two weeks ago, so Steven and Jenna were bought in while Gabrielle was sent back to the house.

I really didn’t see a firing in Jenna’s future, as she had worked hard throughout the weeks and as we know Lord Sugar likes a grafter. Having been project manager of two losing tasks it seemed that Ricky would have to be the favourite to go, despite having handled his team fairly well he should’ve accompanied Jenna to the hectic video shoot.

If you consider that this is the second time that a video has lost him a task, as in the exercise one back in week five, you’d think he would’ve learnt from his mistakes. In addition Sugar seems to have picked on Ricky’s defeatist attitude, somewhat unfairly in my opinion, a point that was only bought up a couple of times but which seems to have been extenuated as a possible reason to get rid of the wrestling recruitment manager.

However, in the end, I had gotten it wrong and Sugar opted to send Jenna home, a huge mistake in my eyes.

Overall I wasn’t a fan of this episode because, as I previously mentioned, this was based solely on opinions rather than fact so either team could’ve been in the firing line. It seemed awfully convenient to me that three time winners Sterling had to accept a loss while the admittedly boring Phoenix campaign was declared the winner. As regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Tom’s however this week he seemed to spend most of his time drinking and also talking himself up once again to prove how much he knew about the product. This week’s MVP is Nick for seemingly taking over the task from the sozzled Tom and making a fairly interesting if slightly off-topic website although I feel Gabrielle also deserves some props for Sterling’s superior logo. As we approach the finish line it’s still all up in the air in terms of picking a winner or even a final four.

Who are you favourite candidates? Did you enjoy this episode? Leave your comments below.