American Idol = a 47 Minute Commercial

5/9/11

I admit, there was a time I would avidly anticipate each American Idol show.  Simon was a star and a total guilty pleasure to watch, brutal yet honest and totally entertaining.  (He probably also saved 10 years of struggle from each failed contestant's skewed broken dreams...just telling them to quit). 

And along the way, some great vocalists were discovered and we learned about Paula Abdul's addiction to pain pills.

But today, I'm not watching.  And I figured out why. 

American Idol has become a total unashamed 47 minute long commercial.  Yes, it seems in the 10th season of the A.I.'s incarnation, in my opinion 19 Entertainment/Fremantle (who own the show) have been taking a big land grab not just for regular commercial slots but displaying a heavy hand of  'in show brand placement' and other cross promotions during the show.

And I mean sure… you always had the Coke cups on the judges table and the occasional Ford montage. But now it’s getting over the top. And it’s all a total turn off.

Why? Because when I watch the show today… I'm not hearing people 'sing' as much as being screamed at: 'SELL! SELL! SELL! BUY! BUY! BUY!'

And I have the proof.  Let's take a look at last week's Finalist show from May 5th. The following is a rundown and outline pinpointing the times of brand placement, cross promotional Fox TV marketing, and other product placements from the judges (yes oh yes the judges all have something to sell too!):

3:00 – 5:00 Min:  (this 2-3 minutes is just jammed packed off the bat with the sales pitch). First, Ryan Seacrest does a feature on Steven Tyler selling his Autobiography.  He then moves to JLo – (Buy her single!!!) she's performing the smash (really?!) 'On The Floor.'  Oh and stay tuned for a Sneak Peak of JLO's next video, 'I'm Into You' (SELL! SELL! BUY ME!). 

And poor Randy, he doesn't have anything to promote… not even a lame cast off show like 'Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew.'  Ryan mentions that 'Randy Jackson will have a bake sale in Tarzana' (haha very funny Ryan).  Ryan Seacrest also reminds everyone… 'Oh and tickets are on sale May 13th for Idols Live.' Coca Cola Cup Product Placement throughout segment.

7:00-10:00 Min: Commercials

11:00 – 13:00 Min: Ford music video – cheesy montage where Idols get to hock for Ford and get the American public to buy some cars… oh N-i-i-i-c-e demonstration of auto parking function on that Ford, Lauren! I never knew vocalists and American cars went so well together. Buy a Ford now!… or ELSE!

12:00 – 15:00 Min: Fox TV cross promotion for Hell’s Kitchen / Master Chef, where the Idol finalists have to make a meal for Gordon Ramsey. WTF I thought this was a singing show?  

16:00 – 19:00 Min: "Just A Kiss"  – Performance from Lady Antebellum (Buy our MUSIC!). Ok, not a bad pick though… they’re really good.

19:00 - 22:00 Min: Commercials

23:00 - 25:00 Min: Bing Cross Promotion – OMG I almost puked.  If you think you could finally escape Microsoft in your Apple microcosm, guess again!  Bing will hunt you down like a predator and find you on American Idol!  This is a segment where Idols have questions that get inputted into the huge Bing search tool bar smacked across your home screen.  For example, “How Do Idols Pick Song Titles,” “How Do You Choose Your Wardrobe.”   Hey, do you think there’s a reason they are using Bing for these searches instead of Google?  Sure, Bing paid out the ass for this segment.

26:00 Min: Oh my God, Jimmy Iovine for once is NOT schlocking those $300 a pair Beats headphones that he usually wears and has co-ownership (allegedly).  Hey Jimmy, what ya got those headphones plugged into when you’re on screen?  I’ll tell you what… a) Your bank account or b) Nothing or c) Both A&B!

29:00 - 33:00 Min: Commercials

33:00 – 35:00 Min: Holy Christ, More Hells Kitchen / Master Chef cross promotion segment for Fox TV!  This time it’s an American Idol Taste Test with Gordon Ramsey.  What?!  Um, OK American Idol… just lemme know when the Idols are actually going to sing and not schlock some products. 

36:00-40:00 Min: "On The Floor" single performed by Jennifer Lopez and PitBull.  Ah well, kudos to Jennifer... at least she’s not lip synching (this time).  Actually this was really good.  Still awaiting that law suit from those “Stereo Love” writers on that track?   Hehe.

40:00 – 43:00 Min: Commercials

44:00 Min: Coca Cola Cup placement… Yup just in case you’re watching you’ll always notice those omnipresent really BIG Coke cups on the judge’s table. They drink A LOT of COKE on this show, if you know what I mean.

44:00 Min: Jennifer Lopez's promotion for her new single "I'm Into You" (which is 100% horrible).

45:00 Min: Oh SNAP!  I can’t believe it… Holy Moly!  It looks like the Idols are finally going to get some face time and not sell anything!

51:00-54:00 Min: Commercials

56:00 – 57:00 Min: Coca Cola Cup Product Placements

Ok, I rest my case.  If you think American Idol is out to help find the next vocal talent, well yeah, they are… kinda. But on the other hand, their 1st priority motive is to shove as many products down your throat so you can buy something, anything, please PLEASE!!! PLEASE … WE’RE DESPERATE!! Buy me!!!

So let’s sum this up.

Total length of normal running commercials:  20 Minutes (um, this is 1/3rd of show)

Total length of Internal Product Placements / Cross Promotions: 27 Minutes (almost ½ the show?!)

Jesus Christ, that’s 47 minutes of advertising, product placement and internal cross promotions for 60 minutes of programming.

This leaves only a mere 13 minutes for actual American Idol singers. 

If I was an American Idol, you know what? I would be totally like, WTF. I mean really… W T F !!!… This show isn’t about ME at all! It’s about schlocking products for Ford, Coca Cola, Fox Affiliated Programs, Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Iovine,  Dr. Dre Beat Headphones, Steven Tyler’s book (and next single) and other recording artists.

In conclusion… I rest my case, Judge Judy.  American Idol has become 90% a mish mash of product placements and only 10% about finding some great singers.  And this year’s batch is probably the worst (except for Scott and Lauren).  The others… I don’t think they would even get a job in Orlando Disneyland.

Long Live Simon Cowell.