'Apprentice' may be over, but product placement will live on

When NBC announced its fall schedule last week during upfronts, it was revealed that the network had not renewed Donald Trump's once-popular show, The Apprentice, sparking rumors of its premature termination.

When NBC announced its fall schedule last week during upfronts, it was revealed that the network had not renewed Donald Trump's once-popular show, The Apprentice, sparking rumors of its premature termination.

The famous mogul said he will be making a decision whether to continue on with the show with another network. NBC has said that discussions are still taking place.

The New York Daily News reported on speculation that rival networks might be interested because, despite declining viewership, the show attracts an "upscale audience advertisers crave."

The Apprentice was originally supposed to be a one-shot deal, but the first episodes in 2004 took off well and generated tons of revenue for NBC. Because of huge ratings and the making of Trump as a TV star, it has been continued now for three years.

Why does it matter?

In addition to making NBC a good deal of money, The Apprentice provided a unique platform for partner brands. Companies seeking product placement opportunities were able to partner with the show and create massive publicity for their brands.

"QVC was a task during Season 2, and we found that the exposure helped to garner attention for the QVC brand in a unique, innovative way," says Bonnie Clark, VP of PR for QVC, via e-mail. "People who may not have been familiar with us were interested in learning more about our company immediately after our task aired. In fact, we still have people today - some three years later - who reference that they first learned about QVC from watching The Apprentice."

In 2004, Bryan McCleary, Procter & Gamble PR director for global oral care, told PRWeek: "We have a mantra that the consumer is boss. We like to go where the attention is, and if it's The Apprentice, that's where we need to go."

American Idol, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Miracle Workers have also used product placement.

Five facts:

1 Apprentice Los Angeles episodes in 2007 featured such brands as SmartMouth mouthwash, Dial's Renuzit air freshener, and Universal Studios.

2 One hour after its Apprentice episode ran in 2004, gelato brand Ciao Bella's daily Web site traffic jumped more than 8,000%, and online sales increased 200%.

3 A 2004 episode featuring P&G's Crest led to more than 10 million hits to the brand's Web site in the three weeks following the show.

4 According to IAG research data, the most effective product placement of 2006 was CVS Pharmacy's integration into ABC's Miracle Workers reality show.

5 TV is still the biggest medium for placing products, with marketers spending $2.4 billion globally in 2006, according to mediapost.com.

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