Domino's Pizza, Papa John's battle for attention during 'Apprentice'

March 31, 2005

Domino's Pizza scored a major PR coup when it landed the chance to participate in the hit TV show, "The Apprentice."

The reality show centers on competitions between teams vying to impress real estate mogul Donald Trump with their ability to run various businesses. Ultimately, a single winner gets a job working for the comb-over king, and those not so lucky suffer through a board room scolding capped off by Trump's now-legendary phrase, "You're fired."

During the March 31 airing, the contestants' business challenge was creating a new pizza for Domino's.

Seeking to slice away some of the attention focused on Domino's role in the show, Papa John's bought two 30-second ad spots during the hour-long program. In the commercial, founder and chairman John Schnatter told viewers to "Tell the competition, they're fired!" He also asked, "Why eat a pizza made by an apprentice, when you can have a Spicy Meatball Pizza from the pros at Papa John's?" (The new pizza was introduced on March 29.) The spots aired in 64 different markets.

Domino's did its share of line-extension advertising by rolling out a new Classic Cheeseburger Pizza during the show. In a news release, Trump called the pizza a combination of "my two favorite foods — pizza and cheeseburgers."

It also ran two commercials featuring Trump: one supporting its long-running 555 Deal, and another centered on the Cheeseburger pizza.

In the 555 spot, Trump negotiates with a Domino's driver over the price of his pizza order. In the second, the Cheeseburger pizza is delivered to his office, where he tries to take credit for the new idea.

Topics: Domino's Pizza , Marketing , Papa John's

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