'Apprentice' Product Placements Wreak Havoc For Brands

We can just envision the heated conversations between Domino's Pizza and the producers of The Apprentice leading up to last night's episode in which an obvious, Trump-delivered voice over was dubbed in after the fact in deference to Domino's who was slammed the week before by both the contestants and Papa John's Meatball Pizza stealth commercial placement.

Domino's was put in an awkward position in last week's episode in which The Apprentice contestants both made meatball pizza which were rejected by Domino's only to have Papa John's Pizza capitalize on that rejection by placing a meatball pizza ad in 60 markets, ultimately, making Domino's look pretty dumb.

Last night, NBC ate crow with a voice over to appease Domino's. Delivered by Trump and edited oddly so as to account for the fact he wasn't actually saying the words when the episode was filmed, the voice over was, "And speaking of last week's task, here's something you didn't know. Both teams created meatball pizza. But if you'd done your market research like Domino's did, you would have discovered that customers don't want meatball pizza. What they want is cheeseburger pizza. The lesson: Always pay attention to your customer." Obviously, it was a direct slap in the face at Papa John's for their brilliant antics last week.

As Andy Dehnart, writing on MSNBC points out, these product placements on steroids don't come without danger. Last night, American Eagle, for which the contestants design ridiculously impractical "Wearable technology clothing" and failed miserably, was slighted immediately following the task by the reward - a shopping spree at, as Trump called it, "one of the great stores anywhere in the world," Bergdorf Goodman. Not paying sponsor American Eagle. Bergdorf Goodman.

In one sense, as a viewer, and as a marketer associating itself with the show, it sort of makes one pine for the simpler, more realistic days of old when contestants sold unbranded, as memory serves, lemonade. Now the show's an hour long commercial.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (0)     File: Product Placement     Apr- 8-05  
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