Papa John's pie in the sky

Folks flying into Denver for the upcoming Democratic National Convention may suddenly get a pizza craving as they pass over a wheat field about 30 miles from the runway. Pizza chain Papa John's pzza has turned six acres of a field in Commerce City, Colo., into a "crop circle" (those mysterious designs supposedly created by space aliens) to advertise its new whole-wheat pizza.

A giant circle is dotted with pepperoni (made from red mulch), green peppers (corn stalks), black olives (black mulch) and cheese (harvested wheat). It also includes a Papa John's pizza box and the words "100% Whole Wheat Crust."

Creating the field food feat wasn't easy without aliens. The company hired earthworks artist Stan Herd, who spent 600 hours crafting it.

Cost: nearly $50,000. That's a lotta pizzas.

Apple a day.

Burger King bkc is on track to earn another title: Apple King. Since launching June 30, sales of its Fresh Apple Fries — apples sliced to look like french fries and served in a fries container — are 85% higher than expected, marketing chief Russ Klein says. The chain has sold more than 3 million servings of the Red Delicious apple treats.

Despite the early success, Burger King executives won't say what it might consider for additional fruit substitutes. How about a banana Whopper?

Lose the Olympic circles under your eyes!

Olympic champions have gone for the gold by shilling for all kinds of products, from financial services to cheese. But even so, the latest endorsements from past Games medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mark Spitz raised the Ad Team's (unwrinkled) eyebrow.

The aging athletes are touting Botox.

More than three decades since they each won their gold medals, gymnast Comaneci, 46, and swimmer Spitz, 58, are supporting a "consumer education campaign" to encourage people to be their mental and physical best. And if that requires the injection of a wrinkle-smoother, so be it.

They're to make personal appearances in cities including Houston and Chicago, accompanied by a "local aesthetic-specialty physician."

China ad gold.

World-class ad spending in China will live on after the Olympics wrap up. In 2009, ad spending in Chinese markets is expected to grow 19.5% to $42 billion, according to a report from media buyer GroupM. That's just slightly less than the 22% rise to $35 billion for this Olympic year.

By 2010, GroupM says, China should pass Japan as the world's second-largest market for ad spending after the USA.

Out of their cave.

Fans of the Geico cavemen rejoice: The Neanderthals are back.

In a new TV ad from The Martin Agency, one of the touchy cavemen is offended that a tennis match pitting him against former star Billie Jean King turns out to be sponsored by his nemesis, Geico.

Separately, as part of a deal the insurer's media agency Horizon Media struck with ESPN, the hairy humanoids will pop up in promotions for the cable network's programming such as SportsCenter.

Geico gave the cavemen "a rest" while ABC aired a TV sitcom based on the characters, marketing head Ted Ward says. Now that the show is history, the cavemen are back in action, he says.

By Laura Petrecca and Bruce Horovitz

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