Did you know who got more votes than Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John McCain combined? The answer is, of course, this season’s winner of the Fox reality based talent/entertainment show, American Idol, Mr. David Cook who took in over 50 million total votes for the season finale.
My seven-year old nephew visiting from Japan is a big fan of AI. Over there, Fox-Channel Japan televises the show on a two-week delay, so he’s busy asking my sister to check the results on the Internet every week. That’s a bit of cheating, but that’s ok for a die-hard David Archuleta fan.
So it was with some trepidation that we took him to the American Idol Tour concert at Staples Center on Monday night (see review on LA Times), not sure if he would like it or not. After all, live shows were different from TV. Besides he only liked David Archuleta, and had a problem with all the "girl" performers and David's arch-nemesis, the other David.
For those of you unfamiliar with American Idol, it is the show that runs multiple auditions around the nation, gathers the top 150+ into Hollywood, and trims that number down to 24, where the remaining contestants get to sing in front of a rather large studio audience. Each week, viewers vote for their favorites, and the bottom four are kicked off till they get to twelve, then elimination is one-by-one. To make it to the tour, the contestants have to be in the Top 10 (see Wikipedia's site on AI).
This year, the Top 10 was a fairly representative group of the American music scene. There were two soulful singers (Chikeze and Syesha), two rockers (Cook and Johns), one pure pop singer (Ramiele), one classic diva (Carly), one laid-back ukulele player (Castro), one Shania Twain wanna-be (Kristie), one Carly Simon sound-alike (Brook), and the 17-year old they called the “Chosen One” (Archuleta) who came in second to aforementioned rocker, David Cook.
This was the 7th season of this monster TV series. It continued to dominate the ratings, in spite of lower viewership than last year. Yet this year’s concert was much more entertaining and electric than those in the past. Everybody got a little bit of what they wanted.
American Idol is marketing at its best (and some may call it the worst). Each contestant will reportedly get $100,000 each to perform in these sold out events across 50 cities in the US. The concerts will continue to build the brand, more people will audition, and then the fans couldn’t wait for the next season.
As we marketers like to say, a brand is a promise of an experience, and on Monday night at Staples Center, American Idol certainly delivered an unforgettable experience for my impressionable seven-year old nephew.