Improvised iPod Placement on The Apprentice?
So I was catching up on my Apprentice episodes after getting back from vacation and I noticed something interesting in the episode from two weeks ago. The two teams were competing to see who could set up the best Nescafe promotion in 48 hours. They each hired event planners to help them set up the actual promotion in downtown NYC (which ate up most of their $75,000 budgets), but they also had to come up with their own prize giveaway ideas.
One team decided to give away $10,000 cash, but the long-haired hippee guy (Danny) from the other team had the bright idea of giving away iPods instead. He seemed to come up with the idea on the spot and another team member even piped in (wrongly) with “The Minis are only $300!”. The team seemed to discuss the idea for a couple of minutes and then someone inexplicably said “Ok, so the bottom line is that we’ll give away HP iPods”.
Who would think to say that on their own? I rewound the scene several times on the Tivo to see who said it and the voice appeared to come from off-camera. It sounded like Danny’s voice but Danny was on camera and his lips weren’t moving.
Fast-forward to the promotion itself. The Apprentice team put up signs in their promotion booth saying “Win an iPod from HP”.
So here’s my question: How exactly did HP get injected into this episode of the Apprentice? The team clearly seemed to come up with the iPod idea on their own, but by the time the promotion ran, the HP brand was all over it. If I had to guess, here is what I bet happened:
- Long-haired hippee guy comes up with iPod giveaway idea.
- Apprentice producers go to Apple and ask them if they’d like pay for iPod product placement on the show (knowing it’s going to appear on the show anyway).
- Apple says “Thanks but no thanks.”
- Apprentice producers, perhaps already having a relationship with HP, remember that HP distributes an iPod too and approach them with the idea.
- HP says yes.
- Mentions of the “HP iPod” are dubbed into scene in post-production and the Apprentice collects product placement fees.
I wonder how often this happens in the world of reality TV. I watch an unhealthy amount of it, but I’ve never seen anything as seemingly improvised as this. Usually product placements are labeled clearly as such and scripted well in advance.