The Genius of ‘American Idol’

Has anyone captured the essence of integrated marketing as well as the producers and sponsors of “American Idol”? I highly doubt it.

[Full disclosure: I, like bazillions of others, watch Idol every week. It’s the rarest of contemporary TV viewing: a show that my wife and I can watch with our 16-, 11- and 9-year-olds without cringing over inappropriate content (with the exception of the occasional poorly placed ad that grosses out my oldest daughter and makes my son cover his face).]

The show was one of the first to integrate new media into its broadcast with the text-message and online voting system viewers use each week to decide the fate of the contestants. Talk about engagement – last week’s show garnered more than 80 70 million votes. Idol’s producers have perfected product integration as well, with Coke cups prominently placed on the judges’ table each week, the Cingular/AT&T texting sponsorship, and contestants appearing in Ford commercials shot as music videos and shown during the broadcast. The viral component of Idol is off the charts. It’s the ultimate water cooler event. A Google blog search on “American Idol” returned 569,124 results.

Last week’s “Idol Gives Back” charity event raised more than $60 million through phone and online donations. Viewers could purchase and download videos from the show via iTunes, with proceeds going to the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund. They have even perfected the art (science?) of bringing dead celebs back to life, as evidenced by the Celine Dion-Elvis duet that left me wondering if The King was, in fact, still roaming the streets of Vegas.

The success of the show and all of its extensions will be a case study one day of how to blend mass-market and one-to-one media and marketing to provide an all-encompassing experience for consumers.


One thought on “The Genius of ‘American Idol’”

  1. Rob, never knew you were an Idol fan. me too! Go Jordin!
    anyway, yes i agree totally..the producers are geniuses. the number of blogs devoted to Idol is amazing too. Too bad that Federal Election Commission hasn’t taken a digital page from idol. Forget about voting online…you can’t even REGISTER to vote online. 80 million votes…that’s mindboggling, and a little pathetic. how many people voted in the last presidential election?

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