Thankfully another season of the Apprentice has now ended. But there’s a lesson from this latest season that I can’t shake.
On one episode, Essex boy done good Alan Sugar accused one of his boardroom boors of making “a complete Horlicks” of the task set out for him.
As chief exec of the agency responsible for Horlicks’ communications, I, of course, cringed. Nobody wants one of their brands to be the primetime euphemism de jour for ‘bollocks’.
My discomfort at the unsavoury connection was abated before I even went to sleep that night. Graeme Ford, social researcher for Grey London’s new social media agency, The Social Partners, pinged in my email and put me at ease. He had been watching the BBC’s The Apprentice as well, caught the reference and had already fired up his social listening software.
Within minutes of Lord Sugar’s utterance, Graeme had captured an abnormally large volume of tweets, musing about all things Horlicks. There was a mountain of ‘I love Horlicks’, ‘I haven’t had Horlicks in years’, ‘I’m going to get me some Horlicks’ type tweets. OK, so there were a few folks tweeting less than lovely things about the brand – but they were still tweeting about it.
Tweeting about it so much that, for the first time in history, a malted milk brand was officially trending on Twitter (#horlicks), officially lodging Horlicks smack into the centre of British consciousness in a big way. Thanks for not just saying ‘bollocks’, Alan.
Love it or hate it, this is the world we live and work in.