This little piggy went to Market. #BBC Apprentice

I wasn’t really intending to write much about this years Apprentice as quite frankly I have found the format boring this year and feel that the programme has probably had its day and that the BBC and other channels need to stop regurgitating the same old programmes and start being creative and bring us new ones!

However when I saw that the programme was set in Edinburgh and the challenge was to sell good quality food. I couldn’t resist watching and then writing about it. For a couple of reasons. I went to University in Edinburgh and then stayed on in the city till I was 30. Working for a large part of this period to market the city to visitors at Edinburgh Tourist Board. I love Edinburgh and was keen to see how it was portrayed in this programme. I was also delighted that it coincided with #scotlandHour on Twitter which takes place the last Wednesday of each month to celebrate and promote all that is great about Scotland and Scottish tourism. And finally I am a huge supporter of local food using fresh local ingredients and the best of local cuisine rather than mass frozen food! Plus I have a wonderful client who does just that and is based in Victoria Street Edinburgh but more of them later.

So what can I say about this week’s apprentice? Well lets look on the positives. Firstly it was a great showcase of Edinburgh and I noticed on Twitter lots of people were talking about visiting as a result of the show. The team that won used quality ingredients and I was so rooting for them to win as they deserved to. As the task was to sell good quality cuisine at a profit. And they did that just! They could have taken a better location in the first place but overall they deserved to win and I am so glad that they did.

But what of the losing team? What a disaster. Cheap Italian meatballs and pasta at a premium price! Why? Why did they not look at Scottish cuisine and look at their competitors in the marketplace! It’s not that we don’t like Italian food in Scotland we do but you need to research when and where we eat it. We eat it at home and in local Italian restaurants and in Edinburgh there are many Italian restaurants that are institutions in the city and well-loved by locals and visitors. We don’t eat it at football matches where we can get a pie and chips for a fraction of the price! Especially when the food concerned looks like something that would be best fed to the dog! So having failed to sell food at Tynecastle they change their tact and decide that no they are not selling to the local market they are selling to tourists. And they speed off to the Grassmarket to hijack a few Edinburgh bus tours! At this point the whole thing gets farcical! With Kate the losing candidate going on the bus dressed as a pizza! She asks the bemused passengers what type of food she is selling. They look at her as if she is nuts and say pizza! No she says be creative? Pasta and meatballs! And she wondered why they looked at her as if she had arrived from another planet? Firstly they are on a tour bus in Edinburgh Scotland. They are here to learn about the history of the city they are visiting. Not to feel that they have somehow been transported to a tacky Disney type Italy where eating meatballs and pasta is a must! And all Italian food is branded by the image of a pizza!

It was a huge relief that cheap lost against quality for many reasons! One Apprentice tasks are done in a very short period of time and the aim is to win and quite often that means that the best product and sometimes teams doesn’t win and we don’t see how the candidates would actually work in business we see a snap shot of a competitive task. Two I always want good quality to win against cheap! And I particularly hate poor quality products that are sold at ridiculous prices. It is also really important to me that the customer is at the heart of any business strategy for the winning team it was but not so for the losing team. Finally branding is key too and I would have liked to have seen both teams looking more at brand Scotland and it’s food. What it is and what is stands for. Cheap tacky tartan hats don’t cut the mustard with me and as for the pizza outfit I believe that is best forgotten.

I must admit I couldn’t help thinking that the teams could have learnt lots on how to sell high quality Scottish fast food from one of our clients Oink of Edinburgh who are based in Victoria Street Edinburgh and sell hog roast rolls! http://www.oinkhogroast.co.uk/ Adam and Sandy are border farmers who came a couple of years ago to sell at the Edinburgh Farmers Market! And saw the opportunity to sell their hog roast rolls in Edinburgh as there was a gap in the market as Lord Sugar pointed out. They have been very successfully selling their Oinks and Grunter rolls since. But don’t take my word for it here is a recent Trip Advisor review for them

“This place is fun, quirky with such a simple idea and the food delicious. You have a choice of what size of roll you would like and then simply either haggis or sage and onion stuffing and apple or chilli sauce to accompany your spit roasted pieces of pork. I honestly was not a fan of pork but this meat was so tender and juicy I could have happily sat there all day and ate it. It’s a great lunch time treat with a bit of a novelty theme.”

We are living in a changing economy. It’s tough trading condition out there and you need to be creative about how you bring your product to market! Adam and Sandy have. And the losing Apprentice team could learn much!

They won’t though the Apprentice is about winning what ever the cost. An out dated business concept and an outdated programme! On the plus side local food won over poor quality food. The team that thought about their customer fared the best. And overall Edinburgh was the winner!

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About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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