The Apprentice 2009 – Episode 5 way aye man, it’s pants

Pants and parrots predominated in another extraordinary performance from Sir Alan’s prospective apprentices as we learn quite how tough a cream puff can be.

23rd April 2009 at 3:23 pm

Imagine if cult comic Viz had created an animated cartoon version of a North East David Brent doing the famous Office dance.

Got it? Well then you’ll pretty much have pictured estate agent Philip Taylor’s extraordinary ‘Pants Man’ performance in Episode 5 of The Apprentice last night.

In what’s become a classic task format, Ignite led by Kimberly, the rough tough cream puff from New York, and Empire led by Kate took on the challenge of devising a character, brand and TV ad to promote a new breakfast cereal aimed at children and their health conscious parents.

The final ad, box and cartoon would be presented to agency big-wigs at McCann Erickson. They’d then advise the famously advertising-sceptic, Sir Alan, who’d have, as always the final say on who won.

And his decision couldn’t have been easier.

Kate’s team rapidly settled on Treasure Flakes as a brand name, devised a pirate parrot character, worked closely with a designer to create some good packaging and shot an advert which, while not inspiring, was OK.

It all seemed too perfect. The only tension came when Kate upset Yasmina by vetoing the female singer on the ad jingle to replace her with team-mate Ben, later described by Sir Alan as “a hoarse Ian Paisley”.

It was going so well for team Empire in fact that James with a sense of sheer exhilaration about being in a jingle recording studio said:

I feel like a monkey learning to use tools.

Fortunately for him all the real monkeys and all the real tools were in the opposing team.

As much as the production team tried to build tension with careful editing, there was only ever going to be one loser last night.

Team Ignite’s efforts were to use Sir Alan’s words “a total piece of rubbish”, although I suspect that wasn’t how he’d normally have phrased it.

Nevertheless, Philip Taylor will go down in the annals of Apprentice comic highlights for single-handedly creating Pants Man, which was only marginally more palatable for an audience of children and parents than his original cereal killer suggestion.

The Pants Man concept was simple and easy to grasp, like all good brands:

a breakfast cereal called Wake Up Call is so good that it makes you want to ‘dance in your pants’, but not emulate the cartoon hero Pants Man who apparently has no Wake Up Call in the morning and therefore wears his pants on the outside of his trousers, like a superhero, something you wouldn’t want to be after eating healthy cereal which would make sure you wore your pants the right way around i.e. underneath your clothes.

The health benefits and appeal to kids are, I think you you’ll agree, indisputable.

The rest of the episode was pure comedy. Noorul was appropriately given the task of dressing up as Pants Man, Philip sang and Lorraine moaned seemingly alone in spotting that Philip’s idea was a dog.

Kimberly resolutely failed to lead or demonstrate any understanding of marketing or branding despite being a New York marketing hot shot.

She even managed to run out of time to brief the designer on box design, leaving him to make something up after a cursory call on her mobile.

The usual showdown was pretty predictable with Kimberly choosing chief critic of Pants Man, Lorraine, and his creator Philip to join her in the boardroom.

As Kimberly tried to defend herself, it rapidly became clear that Sir Alan thought everyone in New York was a psychiatrist, possibly having watched too many Woody Allen films as a youth in the East End.

And let’s face it, the last thing Sir Alan needs right now is a therapist …

Kimberly ultimately proved sickly sweet, rather delicate and largely hollow. And her doeist of doe eyes deserved instant firing, which she duly got.

Quote of the week came from Nick for: “They took logic and tortured it until it screamed.”

Business lesson of the week: laughing at your own jokes and turning them into brands is not big, and not funny.


Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog.

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  1. I thought the brief shot of Noorul alone in what looked like someone’s garage, sitting on a workbench swinging his feet would have been very sad, if he hadn’t been dressed as Pants Man at the time.

    Btw, did you know he’s a superhero who doesn’t know how to wear his pants properly but has developed special powers that prevent others from making the same faux pas in a timely manner, thus leaving them plenty of time to ensure they start the day with a nutritious breakfast? What do you mean, you don’t get it? What’s not to get? He’s pants man!

  2. ‘brief shot’ … very nice!

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