A bad day for advertising on ‘The Apprentice’

Is it just me, or did every person who works in advertising feel like they needed a shower after the Deutsch episode of The Apprentice?

The MBA whiz kids were told to do ads for a charter-jet outfit. All the classic advertising clichés were trotted out—”think outside the box,” “swing for the fences,” “failure is not an option.” When Donny was done briefing them, the teams were as pumped-up as his biceps. Go make some ads, you crazy kids.

The guys’ team came up with a dull-as-dirt B2B print campaign and presented it like mannequins. The girls shot the jets to look like penises (geddit?) and dressed up like stewardesses for the presentation. As the agency staff picked the winning team, someone made the brilliant observation that the guys’ work “had more steak,” but the ladies’ “had more sizzle.” Guess who won?

It got me thinking about everything ad-agency people whine about—how we aren’t taken seriously by clients, how we’re vendors instead of marketing “partners,” blah blah blah. Watching that episode of The Apprentice reminded me that at the end of the day, you can always bet on the advertising industry to go with the broadcast equivalent of a whoopie cushion.

At least the show ended the right way. The project manager for the guys, who decided his team didn’t have to meet with the client, was properly canned. That was the only positive in an otherwise embarrassing and dreadful glimpse into the world of advertising.

Before the Deutsch episode of The Apprentice, America thought of ad people as smarmy—used-car-salesman smarmy. If it’s possible, I think we’ve actually slipped down the ladder a few rungs to just plain despicable—the-guy-who-tried-to-sell-his-kidneys-on-eBay despicable.

But hey, maybe it’s just me.

Jeff Graham
Partner, account executive
St. Louis

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