Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Monday, December 13, 2010

My Mother Was Right About The Apprentice

Over the past few months I've been telling my mom to watch The Millionaire Matchmaker. That show is so much fun to watch and so hilarious. I really get a kick out of it.

In turn she's been telling me to watch The Apprentice, but like a stubborn kid I've been putting her off.

Well you know what happens when moms suddenly stop telling you to do something. That's exactly when you become open to the idea that they've planted in your head.

So yesterday, when I happened to see The Apprentice available on Video on Demand, I decided to watch an episode.

It was fantastic TV! It taught me a lot about the workplace. And there were a couple of brand things in there that I would like to highlight today.

The episodes I caught were "1009" and "1010." Let's pull out three brand issues:

1. In 1009, they have to promote Kim Kardashian perfume in massive retailer Perfumania through an in-store display.

2. In 1010, they have to promote AT&T Mobile TV and "FLO TV" (I'd never heard of that) through a 30-second commercial.

3. After 1010, the fired contestant said that she went on to "represent the Trump brand."

Some quick comments:

On the perfume signage:

1. I know this was just TV, but normally you would not want to come up with an entirely new presentation concept for a brand just for the sake of a point-of-purchase display.

2. The losing team actually came up with the idea that was truer to the Kardashian brand - feather boa, etc. and you can take your picture with a life-size Kim Kardashian. It was just poorly executed.

3. Sometimes tackiness can be fine for the brand. The other team's concept was more sophisticated but the first concept was truer to what is appealing about Kim. Therefore, it made me as a customer more inclined to buy it.

On the AT&T commercial:

1. The losing project team did not mention the brand first and foremost in the commercial. That's a point Trump made. Always put the brand front and center.

2. However, what Trump didn't say was that "AT&T" and "Flo TV" together were too confusing to be called a brand. That's why the representative of the losing project team kept stumbling. Most of the time it's better to just pick one name and not to try to force awareness of a company whose brand is either irrelevant or possibly detracting from the success of the rollout. In this case, AT&T is known to have crappy reception (so why would I invest in mobile TV from them) but "Flo TV" is not known at all (so why would I trust them)?

3. The brand confusion needed to be discussed with the customer. In the real world that would be a negotiation, as would the discussion with Kardashian over the display. Just because the customer likes a concept doesn't mean it is right for the brand.

On the representing of Trump by the fired contestant:

Let me just say that this woman, "Stephanie," represented the absolute worst that an individual can bring to the marketplace. I do not think she is a good representative for the Trump brand or any brand, unless that brand is about complete selfishness, demeaning of your staff, not giving them an opportunity to succeed, not listening to their ideas, elbowing out of every opportunity to contribute or succeed, vain egotism, etc.

In addition I got the distinct sense that this woman was a racist, which totally offended me.

No wonder that the other characters were practically begging Trump to fire her from the other room. I was clapping when he told her to get out, and shocked that the Trump organization hired her back.

In contrast, I think Trump's daughter Ivanka (not the son Donald) is an outstanding representative of the Trump brand. Everything she said was balanced and professional and her demeanor was always appropriate. She knew how to ask tough questions, how to be polite, how to laugh and joke, and she always saw what was really going on despite only glimpsing the situation.

It is interesting how many brand lessons you can learn simply by watching TV.

Thanks, Ma, for introducing me to The Apprentice!