With Donald Trump being a hot topic in the news lately … and the center for comedy as well *cough cough SNL, cough cough Jimmy Fallon* … I’ve found myself watching old seasons of “The Apprentice” in my spare time. I never used to watch them, but now that I’m taking marketing classes for my minor, I have found them both entertaining and informing. Yes, when I watch the very first episode for a particular season, I always try to judge who will win at the end of the season and who’s going to be my season favorite. But more importantly, I try to learn at least one thing from every episode in marketing, business, or management senses. Because even though half of Donald Trump’s tasks seem impossible or crazy, the contenders manage to always do something extraordinary or something not so extraordinary using both their street smarts and book smarts.
So besides comedic media and political media focusing on Donald Trump and his presidential candidacy, why am I bringing up “The Apprentice” in this blog? A common statement that keeps being brought up in Advertising class is “Sex sells.” Funny enough, I was watching the Season 2 finale of “The Apprentice” (episode 16) last week and they dedicated a whole segment called “Sex Sells”, where they looked back at three previous moments of the season where the contestants – both male and female – used their physical appearances and sex appeals to make sales (30:20 – 34:00). Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump’s right-hand woman, said she was “ashamed to be a woman” based on the female contestants’ advances, most particularly on the infamous and controversial event that took place on Wall Street with contestant Ivana on Episode 13 (dropping her skirt for $20 to in turn make more money on her M&M candy bar sales). In that same episode, “M&M sisters/twins” Sandy and Jennifer dressed very similarly in red tank tops, skirts, heels, and straightened blonde hair to sell $5 candy bars to people on Wall Street. Ivana said, “They look like strippers with candy bars, cheap hookers … I’m pissed they’re using sex appeal to sell and I need to do something completely drastic to get 20 bucks for this candy bar.” So naturally to beat out her competition, she thought dropping her skirt was the right move to make. Despite her passionate defenses in the boardroom, Ivana was sent home for her actions. Season 2 was written about in online articles about the whole notion of women in the business world based on the Season 2 female contestants’ behaviors.
Even though that episode/season aired in 2004, it is still relevant today as we have concluded so many times in class and have noticed in our everyday lives outside of class (i.e. movie/TV show castings; print and media advertisements). Tonight, for instance, I went to the Women@Work event at New Hall, which was a networking opportunity for undergrad female students to talk to businesswomen. One of the topics that came up immediately in the discussion portion of the event was “Do women still have to meet society’s standards and wear that low-cut shirt at an interview to get the job?” Quite a number of the businesswomen took the mic and said no – women should not have to use their physical appearances to get a job in today’s day and age. As one woman said, “Confidence is the sexiest garment to wear to an interview and in the work place.” Even though this empowering statement is true, “sex sells” is also true as well in the advertising world, especially here in the States.
Slate article (2/6/04) –
“The Apprentice”, Season 2, Episode 13 –
“The Apprentice”, Season 2, Episode 16 (Finale) –