How Product Placement, Social Media, and Fan Engagement Work Magic for ‘American Idol’
The tenth season of American Idol is wrapping up; although it’s mainly about music, there’s a lot you can learn about marketing from the show.
For example, there’s product placement, social media, the marketing of the contestants, and of course the word-of-mouth buzz that Idol gets from the ridiculous tryouts in the beginning of the season (who can forget William Hung “She Bangs” and General Larry Platt with the “Pants on the Ground” song?
The AT&T logo appears on contestants’ call-in-voting numbers.
American Idol has always been known for an insane amount of product placement. In March there were 208 occurrences of product placement on American Idol alone. That’s an awful lot of Coca-Cola, Ford and AT&T in one month! For those of you who don’t tune in, here’s a visual: the judges sit with a bright red Coca-Cola cup in front of them during every episode, Ford has at least one commercial during every break (the contestants even make Ford music videos), and the AT&T symbol is displayed during every announcement of the contestants’ call-in-voting numbers.
As excessive as the abuse of product placement is on Idol, it’s hard for me to forget about the brands displayed. So, don’t be afraid to get your business name on products and start placing!
In addition to using embedded advertising, the show also depends on audience engagement. In order for contestants to stay on the show, they rely on America’s vote to keep them on. This year American Idol teamed up with Facebook to allow America to vote using the most popular social network. Prior to this year, voting could only be done by calling or texting. Voting through Facebook has given voters an easier way to cast their votes because they no longer have to hear a busy signal while trying to save their favorite contestant from elimination.
The number of votes American Idol has seen come in this year have way surpassed any years before, and the ease of use is probably a big factor. Putting your business on Facebook will give your customers more access to information they may not have known or used before.
Facebook and Twitter are now integral parts of American Idol voting.
Okay, since the main focus of Idol is the contestants and their music (and some of these contestants are only 16), what exactly can we learn from them about marketing? For one, they rely solely on America to vote and keep them on the show, so how they market themselves to America is very important to their success on the show. All of the contestants have a large social media presence on Twitter, where they tweet about rehearsals, ask the viewers what they should sing, find out how fans thought their performances went, etc. In the beginning of the tenth season, a noticeable correlation between the number of Twitter followers and the contestants’ ranking on the show was seen. The contestants with the most followers were landing in the top spots on the show, and the contestants with the least followers were being voted off or in the bottom three.
The top two contestants this season are both pretty young, and with social media being so big among teenagers, this could be a reason these two contestants have been so popular and received so many votes.
The social media scene has changed the way viewers interact with American Idol (if only social media was around when Idol started, maybe someone could have tweeted Justin and Kelly and told them NOT to make a movie). Seeing such a correlation between social media and Idol shows just how important social media can be to your business.
What other marketing tactics can you learn from American Idol? Are there any other television competitions that you have learned a good business lesson from?