For months, the latest season of The Apprentice has filled our television screens with young business types trying to solve brand problems for some of the biggest names in the country.
The candidates on the show are a mix of bright young self-starters and expensively educated MBAs. It’s interesting that in almost every single recent episode, the candidates have to solve a problem that involves creativity or design..
They are not tasked with solving production issues, management issues or personnel problems, because that wouldn’t make compelling television, instead design and advertising are seen as the sexy, but more importantly, the palatable and accessible sides of the business world.
What’s most frightening for people involved in the creative services profession, is that it creates the impression that any one can do this. When some of the biggest brands in the country seem willing to place their trust in un-proven talent, it seems to further reinforce this idea.
Obviously, it’s more complex than that, there’s a clear deal going on here with the brands desperate to leverage and maximize the attention from the show. It’s not about quality of the finished solution, but the fact the solution was birthed and seen by millions of consumers across America.
However, thanks to shows like The Apprentice, design and advertising can be seen as the sexy side of business culture. The creative industries now need to recognize this and make sure that the best work is seen and merchandised on Wall Street, as much as it is on Madison Avenue.
With the creative awards season upon us, now would seem like a good time to do this.
Otherwise, the myth that anyone with an MBA, a large espresso and marker pen, can create effective brilliance, will continue to be perpetuated.