I am at Marketing Science Institute meetings on ethnography in Toronto. If the wireless connections here at the 4 Seasons weren’t almost completely random, I might have posted something on the conference by this time.
Arg! There is lots going on here and I look forward to sharing it with you when time and connections allow. In the meantime, some thoughts on the TV show that holds viewers, most of them, in the palm of its hand. American Idol, what an enterprise!
But from a marketing point of view, we need to break it down. (I think that’s a James Brown phrase, but let us appropriate it for our marketing purposes. From a branding point of view, it is clear that Coca-Cola is riding a rocket. They signed up early and someone at TCCC (the Coca-Cola Company) now looks like a frickin genius. (And if someone saw what was going to happen here before it happened here, they are a frickin genius.)
So what does Coke have? If we think about this from a celebrity endorsement point of view, it gets interesting. On the one hand, we could say that …
I interrupt this blog to report that at 8:57 in the Studio Cafe here in the 4 Season’s hotel in Toronto, a group of very large people passed my table and one of them was Al Gore. Al Gore! This is celebrity sighting and a small indication of the lengths to which This Blog Sits At will go to serve the interests of its constituency. Everywhere you want to be. Or wouldn’t mind being. Or wouldn’t mind being as long as someone else was picking up the tab. Or wouldn’t mind being as long as someone else was picking up the tag, AND House or Bones or… for that matter, American Idol, wasn’t on. Hey, don’t be like that. This is a great man. Or at least a really large one. Hey!
Sorry, on the one hand, we could say that American Idol is the ultimate just-in-time experiment. Coke gets to make a connection with celebrities at the very moment of their minting, just as they are "coming to market." No brand can hope to be more current than this. On the other hand, Coke must make itself a party to a brutal winnowing process as a result of which some of the nation’s sweethearts are eliminated. This can’t be good.
I think the branding sweet spot for Coke should be that moment when there are, say, 8 contestants in place. Coke has helped mint the latest celebrities, present, as it were, at the moment of creation. As the number dwindle however, Coke is actually party to the elimination of favorites and the destruction of dreams. This is not the place any brand every wants to be.
This is a tractable marketing problem. Coke can grow and shrink its presense on screen, according to the moment. There is meaning management to be undertaken here. Is TCCC thinking this way. Or are they just hoping for a maximum of exposure whatever the context/contest in question. I fear the latter. Hey, maybe they should be running for office.