Posted: Fri 15th Nov 2019
Enterprise Nation member Daniele Poggio shares some superb analysis and business lessons from this year's advertising task on The Apprentice.
This week we had the classic episode on The Apprentice featuring production of an advertising campaign.
I always love this episode because it is the one where candidates have an opportunity to shine in my opinion. And yet, every year the pitfalls the contestants fall into are the same and it is always a good episode to learn from and remind ourselves of some fundamentals on advertising, branding and marketing.
Let's dive straight away into the business lessons from this week episode.
Rebranding a country: Finland is known as a winter destination; the task is to promote Finland as a summer destination.
Sounds quite simple. Huge forests and lakes, pristine nature, 24 hours of daylight. Those are the obvious things that came to my mind the moment Lord Sugar gave the brief.
Lesson: Stick to the brief, or in other words, keep the end goal in mid. At all times. We will get back to this.
This is who the ad will aim at attracting. Who are we targeting? Where is the market?
It is important here to pick the audience that is most likely to fulfil the brief. Who is most likely to want to go to Finland? Should they know that it is not just a winter wonderland but also an amazing summer destination?
One of the fundamental mistakes that we can make when we start in business is to target everyone. Because we think everyone will benefit from our product or service, we try and attract old and young, single and parent, active and sedentary, big spenders and little spenders.
The problem with this approach is, when trying to speak to everyone, we speak to no one. It is a little bit like cooking a dish trying to make everyone happy. It will never work. Those who like spicy foods will find it too bland, those who like bland foods will find it too spicy. You have to pick a side.
If your product/service has a broad appeal, create multiple avatars and have more than one ad and go after more than one category.
This year, both teams do a good job at picking a specific target (LGBTQ+ community and backpackers).
What story are you going to tell?
You know what you want to promote, you know who you are going after. When creating an ad, what story are you going to tell? It is very important here - especially if you have not done any advertising before - to script it and put it on paper. Otherwise you will lose sight of the brief. How do you put your target audience in a plausible story that ends up achieving your objective?
In this case: how do we build a story involving 1) backpackers/LGBTQ+ community and 2) Finland as a summer destination (24 hours sunshine, lakes, forests)?
Have it written down on a big poster and keep it in front of you at all times. Otherwise it is very easy to get off topic, especially when we only have precious seconds available to tell the story. 10 seconds for the billboard, 30 seconds for the video ad.
In the episode, the team focussing on the backpackers scripted the story and kept the brief in mind at all times and ended up with a good final product: the logo had the green of the forests and the sunshine, the billboard ,in a few seconds, contrasted rainy and urban London with sunny nature in Finland, and the video did a decent job at showcasing fun in the natural landscapes in Finland.
The other team did not keep in mind the end goal, did not storyboard the ads and ended up with something that did not fully match the brief, focussing too much on Helsinki Pride and not enough on Finland as a summer destination.
The execution: Clarity is power
Like with everything that you want to get done in a short period of time, speed and effectiveness of execution boils down to how effectively the team works towards it.
Of course, the more cohesive the team, the better your chances of success will be.
In an ideal scenario the project manager leads and manages properly, there are no ego trips from any one team member, and people do not squabble over things. We saw plenty of that in the episode on both camps.
However, a big lesson for me, maybe the biggest, this task reminded me of is what I started with: Have absolute clarity on the goal and let it be the master of everything that happens.
When everyone is 100% clear on what the goal is (in this case showcasing Finland summer destination plus points: long days in the sunshine, forest, lakes) and sticks to it, minor bumps along the way are forgiven.
But when clarity is not there and every step is not predicated on achieving the goal, that's when all the other things become a problem: team members fight, stories go off topic, and the result is poor and ineffective.