Last night's bloated "The Celebrity Apprentice" featured the show's D list of marginal celebs struggling to come up with a clever way to get people to return their old, worn-out Crocs to their local shoe stores, so they can be recycled and donated to the shoeless in developing countries. The much-hyped episode was also a clever way for Niwot-based Crocs to announce its ambitious SolesUnited recycling program to a nation of couch potatoes stoned on trash TV.
Call it a match made in hell: The disposable shoe meets the disposable show.
You can't fault Crocs CEO Ron Snyder for wanting to go large with the recycling campaign. After a phenomenal run that has defied all the naysayers, Crocs stock took a serious dive late last year, and there are signs that demand for the faddish plastic shoes is retreating like yesterday's snowfall: sluggish sales (hey, this isn't exactly high season for boat shoes), deep discounts, racks of crayon-colored surplus inventory at Costco. Pushing recycling is smart on several levels: it gets consumers thinking about trading in those tired old Crocs for new ones, it takes a lot of indigestible plastic out of landfills and gives the less privileged side of the planet an alternative to sandals made out of old tires.
But why, oh why, must this campaign end up in the short-fingered mitts of The Donald? At two hours, last night's installment of "The Celebrity Apprentice" had more padding than Vincent "Big Pussy" Pastore, whose inept efforts to rat on the Empresario team, then flip to their cause, proved to be too flimsy a contrivance to keep things moving. The first-grade challenge besetting our business whizzes was to come up with a glorified trash can to hold people's nasty old Crocs. Since that only took about five minutes, most of the dead air (we're talking decomp-in-the-drapes dead) was consumed with supermodel glares, generic Baldwin brother smirks and Pastore's whining, which culminated in his resignation before The Donald could fire him. Talk about a Big Pussy.
This is dull TV in service of a noble cause. We could have used more of Snyder and the rationale for the campaign — but then, that would be real drama, not the pseudodrama of reality TV. Better to have The Donald gaze vacantly around the board room, his eye sockets bleached little buttons in his otherwise overbronzed face, that astounding comb-over poised to attack, and assure the world that, sales reports be damned, the Crocs company is "as hot as a pistol."
That's shoe business. -- Alan Prendergast