The Apprentice: How NOT to create a YouTube sensation

Digital takes a bashing as candidates of The Apprentice create the worst YouTube content ever made.

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The Apprentice is back for its tenth series and even though I feel the format is dated and the contestants annoyingly idiotic, I have watched it for the last six or seven series and I’m not about to stop now.

But this year a bunch of weak candidates comprising of brand managers, entrepreneurs, salespeople, lawyers, accountants and graduates have also been boring whilst failing at every turn.

Marketing hasn’t been well represented – the marketing manager of a global sports nutrition brand was fired in week two and the marketing challenges have been thin on the ground. But this week’s episode was a real treat – they were tasked with creating a YouTube sensation. The teams had to come up with a concept for a video, film it, upload to YouTube, partner with a YouTube channel personality, and pitch to be featured on a site with huge traffic. The winners were the team whose video was viewed the most times over the period of one night.

With a business management graduate heading up one team and a technology entrepreneur with a passion for social media heading up the rival team, it was looking positive. Plus there was even a digital marketing sales manager in one team too. I was expecting greatness… and I was very much disappointed.

Both teams decided that being funny was the way to attract views. Oh dear. Humour is subjective – but an informative video, a review video or a typical Buzzfeed ‘12 things you never knew about kittens’ type thing could have paved the way for success. The videos were just horrible, the humour non existent. Big thumbs down. They then had to upload the videos and optimise them. For starters, no one put any thought into the title, and one team even forgot to fill out a title and description and didn’t seem to think it would make any difference. They also linked up with successful YouTubers (provided for them) – and the winning move was that one team chose a ‘comedy star’ with 12 million video views and a lot of social influence.

When it came to the pitch the contestants clearly knew from the start what site they were pitching to but viewers were left in the dark. So when the teams appeared at the offices of Buzzfeed pitching what can only be described as the worst content the internet has ever seen, I nearly cried. I mean, Buzzfeed! Who doesn’t know (especially between a social media guy and a digital sales guy) what kind of site Buzzfeed is?! That’s when I lost the plot with the programme. The contestants have an average age of 26 but none of them seem to understand anything about digital – which just seems crazy. With nearly every candidate already running their own business, are we meant to believe that not one of them has a solely online business/also runs a website for that business? The future of digital marketing is certainly not to be found on The Apprentice.

In case you care about the result, Buzzfeed featured neither video. A very terrible ‘comedy’ cookery video won with something like 3,300 views. The other team’s equally awful fitness/fat shaming video didn’t lose by much but they hit a new low when all three candidates taken back to the boardroom were fired. As far as I was concerned, it should have been everyone in the show. Lord Sugar, who referred to the technology entrepreneur as ‘the internet man’ and treated the internet like a bit of a joke, should have gone too.

If you had no previous knowledge of digital marketing and YouTube or the internet then it was probably quite good TV. But certainly no one learnt a single thing about putting a video on YouTube, optimising it and creating a viral sensation…

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