Watching The Apprentice last night I saw a great one upmanship in advertising and a bad decision by NBC.I don't know if it was fair but it reminded me of what is happening with brand names/TM owners and search engines now.
The project du jour was creating a new type of pizza for Domino's. Trump suggested meatballs on a pizza would be a great idea and the teams worked that idea.
Domino's, and other brand names, pay a substantial fee to devote an entire show about their brand in Trump's show. The Apprentice is product placement within a show to the hilt.
So the two teams, Magna and Networth, try to find the best locations and marketing strategies in Manhattan. Once they set up the mobile pizza vans, they start showing these mouth watering meatball pizzas.
Twenty fuve minutes into the show, and after the product has clearly been exposed, a commercial comes on for pizza. No, not what you think, it's from PaPa John's.
PaPa John's shows this mouth watering Spicy Meatball pizza. They even make reference to the show The Apprentice and state that their pizza is available now. You dont' have to wait, you can get this pizza from PaPa John's right now and put the phone number on the screen.
I think that NBC is going to have some problems with this . Domino's paid a bunch of money for this show and to introduce this specific product. Domino's does all of the heavy lifting, and PaPa John's comes in and delivers.
By the time Domino's finally introduced their meatball pizza in a commercial, it was 9:45. Who eats pizza that late?
PaPa John's clearly knew this episode was about a meatball pizza from Domino's and stole their thunder.
If you're Domino's do you go after NBC for putting a competitors ad on during "your show"?
It just seems unethical and bad business. I can see this same situation with search engines selling competitors ads when a brand name/TM word is used in a search. It's just wrong and the courts are confirming this.
I'm interested to see what happens here. I imagine the Domnio's execs were steamed last night and the PaPa John's guys were all smiles. I dont think there's anything illegal about it, but it sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth for PaPa John's.
PJ could have waited till the end of the show to introduce this pizza. For all I know there were Apprentice fans chomping on PJ's Spicy Meatball pizza by the time Domino's introduced theirs.
Maybe I'm overreacting, but this just seems wrong on the part of NBC. PJ had a great idea, but NBC should show some kind of loyalty to its advertisers, especially ones that pay for a whole hour.
Interested in your comments.