But one thing has not changed: TV marketers participating in shows with product placement/branded entertainment deals.
Although ratings of "Apprentice" have waned since its inception in 2004--before reviving last season--media executives say the effectiveness of the show in selling product has worked.
That's why LifeLock, a company that provides identity theft protection, decided to take the leap and buy in this year.
"It's a great awareness vehicle," says Andrew Wyant, vice president of marketing for Tempe, Az.-based LifeLock. "For a smaller company, the show can really put [a product] under the microscope [for consumers]." The new season of "Celebrity Apprentice" debuts March 1st at 9 p.m.
For LifeLock's story line, celebrities will try to develop a "physical" product for the LifeLock service. The episode runs April 12.
Brand-entertainment deals for the show are still priced at the highest levels for any network show, anywhere from $2 million to $3 million for each sponsor. Marketers get the better part of 45 minutes as promotion for their product.
Wyant would not comment on the price his company paid for the deal, but he did say it was "certainly in that range."
Although "Apprentice" is now going into its eighth edition, Wyant says the show still delivers marketers big return on investment. For example, he notes that Dial Yogurt Body Wash was one of the top 10 product introductions of 2008--in large part because of its deal with "Celebrity Apprentice."
Wyant believes the company will get more bang for its buck this season--especially since the NBC show will now occupy the better part of an expanded two-hour Sunday episode time period.
In previous commercials, company founder and CEO Todd Davis would tell a street audience and TV viewers his Social Security number--all to show how well LifeLock's identity protection service works.
Wyant says the company's new marketing strategy will also tell consumers about pricing--$10 a month with no annual contract. The new campaign will include FSAs as well as new TV creative.
Although it wasn't mandatory, LifeLock also made a significant media buy on NBC in conjunction with the April 12 branded entertainment deal. OMD Chicago handles LifeLock media buying.