Sunday, April 24, 2005

Apprentice Show product a hit

Deflect-O Corp., an Indianapolis manufacturing company, is basking in glitz. Its newest product -- the "desk apprentice" -- was featured Thursday on Donald Trump's television show, "The Apprentice."
Deflect-O, a subsidiary of Deerfield, Ill.-based Jordan Industries, makes office and hardware products, mostly from plastic.
The desk apprentice is a plastic box the size of a small television set with numerous compartments and mounted on a turntable (at last -- a Lazy Susan for the workplace!). It was designed by contestants on the show as a desk organizer. Trump lauded it, Staples Inc. made a deal to sell it and gave Deflect-O the nod to build it.
Other Deflect-O-made products have been sold in Staples stores, such as pamphlet holders, pencil cups, file sorters -- "basically things that make life around the office a little easier," said Mike Nelson, vice president of Staples Brand Group.
Nice. But not sexy.
The desk apprentice, however, has generated a buzz. Staples reports that 15 minutes after "The Apprentice" episode ended, more than 1,000 of the items -- $35 a piece -- were sold through the chain's Web site.
A Staples press kit arrived in media offices Friday touting the desk apprentice and it, as if to put the new product into context, noted that the paper clip was invented in 1904 and Scotch tape turns 75 this year.
Across the country, nearly 11 million households tuned in to "The Apprentice" on Thursday (in Indianapolis: 130,000).
Deflect-O officials declined to comment on their show-biz debut, but an internal memo from marketing executive Tom Bratton announced that Deflect-O "is now considered the vendor of choice for injection-molded projects and other Staples brand initiatives. . . . We can outmaneuver the big boys and outsmart the little guys!"
The desk apprentice is but the latest product to have a role on "The Apprentice." The week prior, contestants -- a team of "book-smart" college grads lined up against a team of "street-smart" entrepreneurs -- were given the task of making a brochure for the launch of Pontiac's Solstice sports car.
In past shows, Trump has assigned tasks involving Domino's Pizza, American Eagle Outfitters and The Home Depot.
Deflect-O is the second Indiana company to get in on the "Apprentice" action. Last season and again this season, DeBrand Fine Chocolates, a Fort Wayne chocolate maker and retailer, supplied candy to the office suite where much of the show's action takes place. Last season it was chocolate coins, stamped with T, for Trump. This season it's chocolate bars, made to look like bars of gold, emblazoned with "TRUMP."
DeBrand founder Cathy Brand Beere declined to disclose terms of the arrangement, but said that so far she has not used the Trump affiliation to market her product.
The benefit to her company, she said, has been the free publicity from media stories -- like this one.


Post a Comment

<< Home