Last night was the season opener of the Celebrity Apprentice. As a marketing person, I felt compelled to watch to see how these celebrities would market a product or event, and whether I could play Monday morning quarterback on how they did.

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Celebrities Selling Pies for Charity

The task was to sell pies at a storefront in Manhattan for one day. In addition to selling pies to raise money for charity, the celebs were also expected to garner donations from their wealthy celebrity contacts. There were two teams of a women’s team and a men’s team.

Now, normally I would always say that a business should put the priority on what they are selling (which in this case was pies) and focus on making the best pie possible. and then worry about the marketing. But let’s be honest, pies really weren’t the reason for people lining up around the block (although there was bonus money for the team whose pies tasted the best). The big draw at the “pie” shop was to see famous people. So the real job of the celebrity apprentices was to maximize the revenues from their one-day pie shop.

Now, there were definitely some things I thought they could have done differently that would have resulted in much higher revenues.

What The Celebrities Should Have Done

  • They should have charged for autographs and to have their photos taken with fans. It was a fundraiser after all, and that would have easily raised a lot more money then just selling pies and asking for tips. (Your takeaway: always think of all of the add-on items and services you can up-sell)
  • The women’s team didn’t have as many social media followers as the men’s team, so they felt they didn’t get the word out to as many people. But if they knew another celebrity that had a lot of followers, they could have simply asked them to post or tweet out the promotion as well. (Your takeaway: use your connections to help spread the word about your sale, promotion or event)
  • It drove me crazy that the women’s team had only one person processing payment, creating a huge lineup. I left a store the other day because I didn’t want to wait in a long line. One of the women finally realized it and pulled out all of the people in the line wanting to pay in cash. (Your takeaway: if you are having a big sale, have at least two checkout lines – with one for cash, one for credit – or you risk losing customers).
  • The men’s team had Kevin Jonas serving pies, but every girl wanted a photo with him so it held up the line. They also had baseball player Johnny Damon outside signing autographs (for free). They should have put their most popular celebrities inside the shop, at the end of the line available for photos, autographs, etc. so it pulls people inside to buy a pie, and it doesn’t hold up the process. (Your takeaway: freebies and other draws are meant to lure customers inside with the hope it results in a purchase; don’t just give it away)

There is another episode of the Celebrity Apprentice tonight, so check back tomorrow to see what marketing do and don’ts I found, and let me know your thoughts in comments.

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