Turtlely Crap!

My Little Ponys poor relation!


As Lubna lurks around the phone in the early hours the call comes through with the usual 20-minute shout out to get ready as transport would be waiting.

Why 20 mins?  Why not half an hour – so much can be achieved in half an hour! Their destination; the heart of the West End & The Cambridge Theatre to the set of Matilda where Lord Sugar would reveal the third task.

On route there was much speculation to if the teams would be shaken up.  Would there be a change? Perhaps a mix of men & women? With 2 men down, surely this would happen.  But Pamela voiced her preference to it being just women, backed by Jemelin who was also enjoying girl power!

The task was about using imagination.  The mission; to design a toy for the 6-8-year-old market, make an online video to promote their brands & pitch to two major retailers. Childsplay!

As predicted, the teams were split; Carina, Ryan-Mark, Pamela, Dean, Iasha, Jemelin, Lewis on one & Thomas, Riyonn, Souleyman, Marianne, Lottie, Lubna, Scarlett on the other.

Time to decide the Team Names for 2019.  Ryan Mark was first to suggest ‘Fabulous’.  Fabulous Ryan Mark, but not picked!  Instead Team N Power - or was it Empower put forward by Carina - - Borrrrrrrinnnnnng!

With her creative juices flowing Lottie who must have picked up a book on military technology instead of Shakespeare decided to be all deep & meaningful as she referred to the missile Polaris the mainstay of the British nuclear deterrent force during the 1970s and ’80s. – Lottie said 60’s to 90’s, that’s what happens when you just look at the pictures Lottie. 

The reason for the proposed Polaris name was down to its direction/impact/power.  The passion was not reciprocated just strange looks from this new combination of people.  Marianne voiced perhaps something more peaceful & Unison was born! But why are they joining the largest trade union in the West Midlands?

With such non-exciting names, it was time to pick PM’s.  In the trade union group Thomas put himself forward admitting the only toys he had ever sold were on a market stall.  “Anyone want a Pokémon?  Come on ladies, get your cabbage patch dolls here at bargain prices!”  Whereas Riyonn who has not only invented a board game & a range of Middle Eastern cooking sauces, is also from an entertainment background!  He has done commercials & knows everything!  Everything? Well in that case what’s the fun in that we may as well just turn the TV off & go to bed!

On N/Empower Pam puts herself forward & no one objects or volunteers so that was simple!

Now time to think of the toy.  Carina thinks unicorn.  Ryan Mark is quick to remind the group the task is all about utilising ones imagination - Come with me and we'll be In a world of pure imagination Take a look and you'll see Into your imagination We'll begin with a spin Traveling in a world of my creation Look and see We'll defy explanation – steady on RM!

Jemelin thinks slime is a popular choice with children & should be included as it was so versatile.  As a parent I agree – throw it in the bin!  Yes, it was me who threw all that horrible slime away as I hated it – I hated the marks it left on the walls, the fact it made the cat sick, the fact that it got everywhere!  Satisfied?

Dean who looks like he still plays with slime, chips in knowledgeably stating the slime market is booming – really really Dean? Carina in her Willy Wonka mode explains that unicorns live in a slime clouds - sounds plausible?

Thomas aka Dr Doolittle is talking to the animals.  Correction thinking about an animal that talks!  Animated (boom boom) Lottie joins in on the theme suggesting perhaps the talking animal could praise the child – ‘well done you have been very brave today’ “it could be quite sweet!” – for who – pass the bucket!

Riyonnn sold by this concept splits the teams down even further and allocates Thomas, Scarlett & Lottie to be responsible for the design.  He also makes Thomas sub team leader.  Watch & learn girls …….

Cue Thomas - Always confident aint I, know what I mean, gonna get in there smash it up, make it the nuts take it to retail and sell loads of them!  Any old iron any old iron any any any old iron!

However the allocation of Sub Team Leader on N/Empower was a little more challenging – Lewis with a Masters in marketing threatens to be all over it – unfortunately for Lewis, Pamela’s focus differs, expressing she wants to have a girl in charge of the sub team & choses Jemelin to whip the boys into shape.  Not happy, Lewis thinks it’s weird being a Marketing Manager (totally agree Lewis) and questions it should be about skill set not gender.  To stop his whingeing Pam reminds him he has lost twice – low blow but honest!  Unstoppable Lewis throws in the I was at university - big fat so what to that one Lewis!  Then changes tactics to questioning am I being dismissed because I’m a boy? – No Lewis you are not a boy you are a man so man up, shut up and crack on!

With winning in her sights Pamela continues to not entertain Lewis & sensing this could go on for a while Carina puts it out there that Pamela decision should be respected. Job done!

Cue Lewis to the camera – Cue the tissues?  Boo hoo!  I’ve been overlooked in preference for what’s in between my legs – What’s that then Lewis - a unicorn covered in slime – get over it!

Now for deciding brand names for each teams’ products; Animal Squad for Unison & Slime Kingdom for N/Empower

For the man who can do everything Riyonn thinks as dances go viral wouldn’t it be a great idea to do a dance for 6-8 year olds that goes viral – a super cheesy one where different animals are dancing with a backdrop of changing scenery – Wow Riyonn you’re so down with the kids!  (When was the last time you heard a 6-8-year-old say super cheesy -although that sounds like a potential brilliant idea for a toy for 6-8-year olds!)

Souleyman whose minimal but critical contribution wants to establish what a super cheesy dance looks like, but Riyonn hasn’t got that far – Does he have to think of everything Souleyman?

Getting to grips with slime, Lewis settles into a lowly team player role & together with Ryan Mark & Jemina they think of a cracking storyboard for their online video ……. Once upon a slime …….Remember the unicorn warns Jemelin which jolts Ryan Mark alias David Walliams into story telling mode letting his imagination run wild Come with me and we'll be In a world of pure imagination Take a look and you'll see Into your imagination We'll begin with a spin Traveling in a world of my creation Look and see We'll defy explanation – steady on RM!

Suddenly there is a King, Queen and Evil Villain who kidnap the unicorn in return for lots of slime.  The Queen goes on a mission to save unicorn! – Sounds quite exciting!  Just need a product to reflect it!  At the design company its Pam & Co who design it ………My Little Pony!

But as Carina points out my little pony is a ponnnnnny and what they have come up with is a unicorn – silly me – silly viewers!  Also, their unicorn has a passport and wings and travels and has slime – Righty Ho!

Iasha who apart from wearing very colouful suits hasn’t really had a lot to say is concerned they are straying away from the slime theme & concentrating more on My Little Pony – sorry unicorn! Pam ‘bleeding obvious’ doesn’t wish to admit any detail has been overlooked states ‘slime is slime’ – Iasha satisfied returns to blend into the rainbow background of slime kingdom!

In Unison there are massive negotiations going on…. Sorry wrong unison – Thomas suggests a talking turtle & Scarlett takes it one step further by putting forward to attach it to your hand instead of holding it as a toy.  Why would anyone want something strapped to their hand unless it’s an Apple watch!

Given a flip chart and marker pen Thomas is like Tony Hart!  He is adding buttons to make it super cool and bought in totally to this limited confidence boosting sayings big fat plastic turtle that every 6 -8-year-old wants strapped to their hands!  Well done Mate – you have done well today said no turtle ever!

Scarlett who it looks as though she has put her blusher on in the dark states her 7 years old daughter wouldn’t buy it! Cue Scarlett who wants the viewer to know she has reservations not sensing its appealing to the target group.  Why doesn’t she tell the team instead of the camera?  She feels it needs to be flashy and although its good in theory the appeal is something they will have to get around.  No Scarlett you don’t have to get around it you just have to stand your ground and make them see why this product is NOT relevant to 6-8-year olds.  Thomas the turtle says Well done Scarlett – never!

Thomas the human tells Riyonn’s group they have cracked right on & designed something special, he omits for preschool.  Scarlett explains they have based Thomas the Turtles power of speech on 3 aspects; bravery, achievement & kindness – Shame she didn’t utilise this principle and be brave enough to make a stand so that they could achieve the task and be kind enough to ensure this happened.

Lights, camera action, it’s time for the online videos to be brought to life!

Ryan Mark is the Evil Villain & Jemelin is the Queen looking for Sparkle Star – Cue Lewis – don’t know what you were complaining about Lewis you make a fabulous sparkly unicorn – you may just have found your vocation – just shame you’re not pink!

Cue Souleyman clearly ungrateful for the lead part as Tommy the Turtle in their VT “At the end of the day there is no content and no content doesn’t make sense.  Correction Souleyman this is relevant at any time of the day!

Cue Claude – “Its so childish so babyish” But Riyonn heady on the adrenaline from creating a dance that appeared as though each animal had pooed in their pants and were trying to get rid of it by wiggling their butts can only see his name in bright lights – next stop – Hollywood! – “Like it’s really good!” Really Riyonn!

Karen on N/Empowers design - “I mean frankly its been done to death; all they could come up with is a glittery unicorn”

Thomas the voice of Thomas the turtle was asked to tone down the market trader recital and try speaking like a boy – “I travelled the ocean all on my own I’m brave just like you” – What 6-8-year-old is going to be impressed?

Souleyman feels the logo needs to be a different colour expressing it is unappealing to 6-8-year olds and looked more like a rescue squad than a toy company. Claude voices what everyone else is feeling about Souleyman’s negativity throughout the task.

The Slime Kingdom logo is going well.  Its colourful and eye catching, and everything was on track until the design of the toy comes through which says nothing about slime and everything about My Little Pony!

Cue Lewis “That is a My Little Pony, we started off with a USP for slime & now we have a horse with wings & horn and no mention of slime” (for those who have not been to university or have a masters in marketing the abbreviation Lewis used USP means Unique Selling Point/Proposition).

With the teams back together, they watch their online videos starting with Slime Kingdom.  Pamela really, really likes it a lot whilst Carina comments slime was mentioned a lot. It appears from spending time with Pamela, she has picked up on the bleeding obvious – ‘everyone knows what slime looks like!’  Lewis needs to check that slime is still a feature within this create an imaginative toy campaign & Carina looks on uncomfortably – Have you been slimed?

On Unison, Lottie & Scarlett are both catching flies whilst watching their teammates prance about dressed as big unattractive furry animals whilst words appear on the bottom of the screen.  Scarlett being the first to recover says “Do you know what I don’t think its completely terrible!”

The tickets to Hollywood and receiving the Oscar for best viral dance video disappear as Tommy asks Riyonn “your telling me we are going to go and pitch John Lewis with that?   Focusing on the comical aspect, Scarlett’s only reservation is the age group – de ja vous?  But Riyonn is quick to point out they are not pitching to 18 years old convinced it could work if they knew what he meant - no Riyonn we don’t!

Pamela is excited to show the product, which is a plastic cloud and inside it is a bright pink unicorn passport (hope that they have taken Brexit into consideration) and a tiny pot of slime.  Jemelin is disappointed with the size of the slime being there are hundreds of thousands of unicorns out there (slight exaggeration but valid point!).

Cue Carina co-creator/copycat of My Little Pony “Unicorns so popular I would buy it!” But you are not 6-8 years old Carina!  Bet somewhere in your house lies a massive collection of My Little Ponies you still haven’t put out to grass!

Souleyman still critical is concerned Tommy the Turtle is not really a toy to play and have fun with which Tommy the human finds difficult to comprehend “What’s not fun about a turtle that lives on your hand?” – Don’t think you have the time to hear the answer to that one mate!  Souleyman questions its reusability noting once you have heard everything you’ve heard everything! But Tommy was having none of it – “This is going to be on every child’s Christmas list this year! He is your walking, talking friend – He’s your mate!”

The pitching moment has arrived, there will be two major retailers; John Lewis being the first.

Lewis without the John wants to pitch.  Ryan Marks wants to pitch, but Pamela has already recruited the pitching team.  Lewis pitch turns into a bitch as once again he complains of being an ignored yet skilled marketing expert!

At John Lewis, enter Riyonn who looked so excited he may need to be excused to go to the toilet & so excited to present Thomas the Talking Turtle!   Scarlett boasted of its innovative imaginative and promoting fun elements which prompted Riyonn to run the turtley terrible video.  John Lewis was speechless requiring subtitles like the video.  Finally, on commenting they felt it was a preschool video.  Thomas not to be put off by this factual information wanted them to know Thomas was not just a toy he was a friend too! – He is not a friend he is a plastic turtle!  Who wants a friend who only says three positive statements – you would want to slap them senseless after spending more than 5 minutes with them!

John Lewis felt when you reached 6-8 years you looked for something cool which human Thomas felt their product was.  Did you have a big fat plastic turtle strapped to your wrist Thomas when you were 8 banging on about swimming the ocean? 

Question - Does it do anything else but give you positive messages – Answer – No.  Cue Claude who felt even though Thomas was very positive as in the person not the turtle, he didn’t listen.  Cue Scarlett doing a I told you so moment “did touch on preschool”.  Heard it all before Scarlett!

Next! ……

Pamela starts by introducing My Little Pony – sorry Sparkle Star the unicorn who when travelling pops on her backpack and wings.  “Looks like My Little Pony” said John Lewis.  Good point to mention states Pam – “I am now going to bring in Lewis” Like to see you try when he’s not even in the pitch. As you may have guessed it wasn’t Lewis but really, really Dean who in the last task was shocking when it came to represent himself in a professional manner.  

Let’s hope he does better this time and this is what he said;  “As a toy we wanted to make sure it was very on trend and we recognise the slime market is a booming market from a business perspective, as well really on trend and it’s something which is sort of booming and as a company something which is on trend basically….” OMG someone cover him in slime, or may the unicorn fly into his mouth to shut him up!  “Yeah thought I would play the video to you so you get better insight to it” On the video ending John Lewis said Talk us through the video as they were struggling to see the connection and in their opinion there could be two separate brands.

Step up Iasha who in a bright cyclamen pink suit starts to explain – “it’s a whole amazing fantasy land; little houses made from slime, whole kingdom built with interior slime and that’s where sparkle star lives” Maybe it’s because she has the voice of a child was why her crazy mumblings resonated and a penny dropped or maybe John Lewis were just too stunned by everything to disagree?

Outside Dean checked his new name with Pam who hadn’t even registered she had referred to him as Lewis but admitted she probably had done so due to being so annoyed with Lewis!

During watching the focus feedback Jemina was surprised and everyone in Unison couldn’t hear over Souleyman’s moaning and ultra-critical commentary.

So the feedback was fed back.  Jemelin suggested that someone who had listened to the feedback should go onto the second pitch as the slime aspect was important.  But Pamela couldn’t think of anyone she wanted to replace so for the smoothness of the pitch she chose to keep it the same giving Lewis another opportunity to raise his grievance about not being chosen especially with his knowledge around on and offline marketing!

In Unison on planet Riyonn he reported the first pitch went really well – the feedback from the focus group was given confirming once again the product appealed only to a younger age range with the only glimmer being from Lottie who said there was one 8 year old who liked the phrases (actually it was the buttons which they thought were a cool idea!).

Pitch 2 Enter slimy Dean who explains the Kingdom is the slime.  The woman from the major toy retailer was a bit like the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang remarks about the size of slime being disappointing which prompts Pamela to bang on about folding in the toy? They are playing not baking Pam – think you and Carina having been talking shop a bit too much!  The child catcher looked unimpressed; “Get the unicorn, get the slime but don’t get how they go together!”  Come on Iasha do your thing – tell her the story of why Sparkle Star is the next big thing to hit the toy shelves – after 3; 1, 2,3 “Thank you so much for your time!” –What a let-down Iasha - big let-down!

For Riyonn, his excitement was still huge in the second pitch being so excited still to introduce Tommy the Turtle and their fun viral video to go with it.  Tommy couldn’t help but add about Tommy being a friend as well – that old chestnut!  The child catcher asked; Do you think he’s cool as she struggled to see any 8-year-old wanting Tommy.

Lottie who had tagged along to be able to mention the one child that didn’t slag off Tommy the Turtle began to feedback about the focus group where the opinions were varied.  But before she could finish the child catcher’s sidekick interrupted as in his world missed feedback was a worry in itself!  Lottie for once was silent!

Unlike Tommy the human who like the Titanic was taking a while to be defeated – it will be the next big craze I can just see it now – should have gone to spec savers big man!

Cue Lottie – I’m not here to make things look fine and dandy I am genuinely worried and so you should be Lottie!

Watch this space ……