Contact: Hitting the Spot

  • by April 25, 2005
Lately we've been getting confused as to whether nbc's "The Apprentice" is a reality tv show, or if Donald Trump's boardroom is one big product shill. He incites a Pavlovian response in us when he tells his latest victim, "you're fired," after introducing us to many new, tasty products on a weekly basis.

Domino's Pizza, one of the show's sponsors this season, was recently ambushed by rival Papa John's when it bought local market air time to break an ad campaign, one-upping Domino's Pizza's glitzy product placement. The campaign featured spots for a meatball pizza, which "coincidentally" happened to be the flavor marketed by both "Apprentice" teams. No doubt, because The Donald mentioned his love for meatballs on pizza, which Papa John's discovered by reading a press release just before the episode aired.

If Domino's and Papa John's were kids in the school lunchroom, they would have been in a food fight. After investing plenty of dough on the placement for its new American Classic Cheeseburger Pizza (the ad featured The Donald himself), you'd think that Domino's would have been named the lunchroom champion by the time the show was over. Domino's opted to create and advertise its own pizza flavor rather than choosing the winning "Apprentice" team's flavor.

Enter, Papa John's. Its spot shows the chain's Founder John Schnatter in a boardroom encouraging people to tell the competition, "they're fired!" Schnatter asks, "Why get a pizza made by 'The Apprentice' when you can get a pizza made by the pros at Papa John's?"

In the following week's episode, not only did Trump say "...if you'd done your market research like Domino's did, you would have discovered that customers don't want meatball pizza," he also starred in a new Domino's ad where he ordered a cheeseburger pizza and pretended to have developed it himself. Talk about relentless self-promotion.

Of course Trump had integrated his love of fast food (i.e., fast money) into the season's first episode, which resulted in the creation of Burger King's Western Angus Steak Burger.

And if you're thirsty, there's always Nescafé Taster's Choice "Apprentice" coffee drink, the 5th Avenue Frappe. For dessert, last season's teams concocted and hawked Ciao Bella Gelato Company flavors, "Donut Dream" and "Red Velvet," which had a limited run in retail shops and restaurants. After all that "Apprentice"-inspired eating, you'll want to brush your teeth with Crest's Whitening Expressions Vanilla Mint Crest toothpaste, which saw its marketing campaign developed on the show.

Jennifer Coleman & Amy Corr

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