Lord Sugar finally learns golden rule of marketing at Nabs

Lord Sugar is not a fan of subtle. The 65 year old East End boy made good is a straight talking, no nonsense, simple kind of bloke, and that’s just how he likes his advertising.

You know CDP’s surreal B&H ads in the 70s and 80s would have driven the Amstrad man to distraction. He’s more a webuyanycar.com, direct response kinda guy. So it was with great interest that Alan, “I like hard-selling adverts”, Sugar took to the stage for an “audience with…” event hosted by Nabs last week.

The entrepreneur and star of The Apprentice has admitted in the past he thinks advertising people are “bullshitters, just like I am”. For the most part, he thinks advertising and marketing is “pissing money up a wall”.

On the media side, we’ve all heard the recent stories about his recent run ins with that other wallflower, Richard Desmond, with deals, double deals and histrionics aplenty flaring up over YouView, attempts to poach pilots and contra-deals involving Amscreen.

However, in front of 500 media and advertising execs at Nabs, Sugar hadn’t quite judged the mood when he began recounting an expensive TV brand campaign from yesteryear, which he believed had failed from the outset.

In a cutting observation, designed to prove that subtly and narrative is no competition for product, product, product when it comes to advertising, Sugar asked rhectorically: “Who remembers the advert, that great advert, great photography – it was a car firm – and I swear to you to this day I don’t know what car firm it was.

“A ball bearing goes over, rolls down the thing, knocks something else over, cogs turn, hits something else, something else goes on… but what’s the name of the firm?”

Hear how adland responded to this challenge in the 45 second video footage below. A fleeting moment in what proved to be a highly entertaining night for the industry charity led by Zoe Osmond, but it might just have reminded Sugar about one of marketing’s most fundamental building blocks: know your audience.