Blogging Out Loud

Connecting You with the Latest Marketing Tips and Trends.

The American Idol Effect.

Immortalized at Madame Tussauds, American Idol's Simon Cowell is famous for passing judgement. Could you fill his shoes? Consumers are capable, thanks to the many brands that ask us to shape their image.

No longer are classic brands simply appealing to us on a basic need and/or want level; they’re saying, “We want to hear what you think.”

It’s no secret we live in a fast-paced world, one in which new ideas, products and trends come and go faster than you can say, “You’re fired.” While I used to worry about keeping up, lately I find myself less concerned with passing fads and more interested in what makes it past the censors; what we, as consumers, deem worthy of investing in, literally and figuratively. Catch phrases, product slogans, even jingles have worked their way into the collective consciousness (up there, that was a reference from The Apprentice, but you already knew that), but not all of them make the cut. That’s how I got to thinking about voting. Not for politicians, but for products and their evolving images.

The value of what I like to call “The American Idol Effect” extends beyond entertainment. By asking us to get involved and vote on their latest mascot, packaging and slogans, smart brands such as Brawny, James Hardie, M&Ms and even Microsoft are building a different kind of customer loyalty. They’re also redefining what it means to be a consumer.

Is it just me blogging out loud, or is consumerism no longer solely about purchasing power? It seems it’s also about having our say, and having our say matter. Brand loyalty is not just driven by the brand; suddenly, consumers are co-pilots.

That said, a recent study by comScore reports a steep decline in brand loyalty over the past two years, ultimately concluding that as of March 2010 less than 50 percent of American consumers were purchasing brands they most desired. Says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni: “A decline in loyalty to consumer goods brands is typically one of the byproducts of a recession as consumers give greater consideration to price.” He goes on, however, to say, “Despite these shifting consumer dynamics, research has repeatedly shown that premium brands which invest in marketing and promotion activities aimed at maintaining buying at ‘preferred’ levels are able to minimize short-term erosion of share to less expensive brands and position themselves for a bounce-back when the economy improves.”

In response to this, a blogger at Mobile Marketing Watch asserts “utilizing mobile concepts to engage an audience on new levels and insert a brand image in contextually relevant and highly targeted content can do wonders for a brand that’s quickly seeing a loss in customer loyalty.” And although we’ve seen this mostly in television, where shows like the aforementioned American Idol and Dancing with the Stars empower audiences to help decide the winners, it is popping up elsewhere, too. In popular music, we’ve seen bands such as Bon Jovi and The Rolling Stones encourage fans to vote for songs to be played live (Bon Jovi did this on the Grammy Awards earlier this year). It’s hard to go online without wandering down the rabbit hole of one sweepstakes or another, asking little more than the voter’s age, gender, zip code, and a simple “yes” or “no.” In this way, it’s fascinating to consider how technology (i.e., cell phones, the Internet) can work to both a brand’s and customer’s advantage. It’s equally fascinating to consider how old-school (nay, classic) brands have made an old trick new. No longer are they simply appealing to us on a basic need and/or want level; they’re saying, “We want to hear what you think.” The louder message though is in the implication — that our voice matters. Do you think it’s working? Dial “1” for “yes” and “2” for “no.”

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: cliff1066™

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

8 comments on “The American Idol Effect.

  1. Pingback: 5 Marketing Tips For Your Brand’s X-Factor. « Blogging Out Loud

  2. Brody Cooley
    December 1, 2010

    Thanks for putting together The American Idol Effect. Blogging Out Loud I am enjoying your posts. Would you consider a guest post? You can see my post style at and certainly I would be interested in having you post an article or two on my blog, what do you think?


  3. Jeff
    June 18, 2010

    I agree that interactivity and giving our client’s loyal users a forum to talk back to the brand is a wonderful tool if, as Phil said, the brand is then able to digest and act on the information obtained. We must also, as responsible marketing professionals, be able to prove the concept and demonstrate a clear return on our client’s investment in interactivity. Activity must = results.


  4. BB
    June 17, 2010

    This type of interaction with consumers not only involves consumers with the brand and builds brand loyalty, it allows brands to morph and extend their products, services and image in ways that are truly relevant to the consumer. The key is listening, understanding and responding.


  5. Ryan Bish
    June 16, 2010

    It is working because technology and the internet have empowered the consumer to a level never seen before. Marketers should realize this trend and provide the necessary forums to empower them. Doing so will give their brand the extra edge in this ever changing world of mass customization. Who doesn’t want to be Simon Cowell for a minute?


  6. Cristina Vazquez
    June 16, 2010

    I think it’s working! Consumers feel like they really belong to the brand by being able to interact in a direct and instant manner.


  7. Philip Saifer
    June 16, 2010

    Marketers that are open to real “interactivity” can score big points in the hearts and minds of their target consumers. But being true to interactivity means being able to digest the comments that are not only in good light, but those that are critical as well. That separates those that “talk the talk” in today’s marketplace from those that “walk the walk.”


  8. Jeff
    June 16, 2010

    In the current historically dreadful economic environment, our clients are more than ever seeking a quantifiable ROI to justify spending precious marketing $.
    Although interactive “mobile concepts” are very forward-thinking and sexy and will, with the right product and execution, spark lots of activity. How do we as marketers demonstrate that all of this increased heat is generating any real light and positively impacting the bottom line? We can argue the ever seductive sounding “long-term brand awareness and loyalty” But this is proving a much more difficult sell in an environment where clients are looking desperately for immediate results.


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This entry was posted on June 16, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .


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