American Idol Advertisers Are Not Advertising Idols

American Idol Advertisers Are Not Advertising Idols

It is amazing to me that so many companies missed a great opportunity to attract loyal customers by using proven marketing techniques targeted to their customers and prospective customer in the group of more than 43 million people watching the American Idol finals. Nearly every company paying all or a portion of the $739,000 per 30 second spot missed the mark. Several were ridiculous in their presentation and message.

Two of the foundation marketing  principles that I use to help companies drive high profitable sales growth are:

First: The message should be developed to appeal to your target audience.

Second: The effectiveness of the promotion must be measurable so you can calculate return on investment. This means you need to be able to track the response to the marketing promotion. This is the foundation of direct response marketing.

As to direct response marketing. Many in the advertising agency business argue for building brand awareness. That is a legitimate and worthwhile goal. Cingular is a cell phone brand. They ran a promotion for a hot monthly subscription price and an even hotter free phone if you called a special 800 number. It seems to me that they had a plan to build brand awareness and track response to the promotion. It also looked to me like they may have been doing some split testing since other ads run during the American Idol finals did not have the same direct response features. If in fact that was a planned split test campaign, I am not sure how they were measuring the effectiveness of the non-direct response advertisements.

Coke Cola, a traditional institutional brand advertising company at least on television, moved to testing direct response by encouraging viewers to go to a specific web site for a promotion. It moved pretty fast so I didn’t get the website address or even remember the special offer. I imagine a lot of other people didn’t either. But they are moving in the right direction by linking a promotion to a measurable call to action.

I am not in the target age group for Ford’s "bold moves" campaign but I wonder
how showing a woman cutting her hair off and a man competing with one leg makes you want to buy a car. If it does, how would they know?

43 million people watching the finals and Wendy’s promotes a big frosty. With the awareness of high calorie, fat building foods going through the charts, I wonder how many people were motivated to go to a Wendy’s after that commercial. Now I could be very wrong here so if Wendy’s really wanted to know the effectiveness of that ad, why not "GIVE AWAY A FROSTY TO ANYONE GOING TO A SPECIAL SITE SET UP TO CAPTURE NAME, ADDRESS AND EMAIL. IN EXCHANGE THEY CAN PRINT OUT IMMEDIATELY A COUPON FOR A FREE FROSTY." Now there is a test with multiple benefits.

If someone can explain to me the point of a bunch of people running around in madras shorts and tops, pleaseemail me. I just could not see how that ad would make anyone want to jump in their car and get over to Old Navy. No wonder same store sales for The Gap are tanking.

A couple other ads fell into the Old Navy category. One was Fantastic Sams.  It didn’t well – it just didn’t. One of Sony’s ads went so fast that I couldn’t tell what it was they were offering and I was paying close attention to the advertising. Most people watching American Idol most likely did not watch the ads that closely.

State Farm directed people to a web site where they could register for a free car. Good example.

Home Depot ran a promotion on a specific product. Fine but since the American Idol finals are in advance of the Memorial Day long weekend where Home Depot is running a lot of other specials in print circulars, there is no practical way to measure the effectiveness of the money spent on the American Idol ad.

Many other companies promoted product with no specific offer or ways to track it. It is a waste of money and the ad agencies who came up with the ads and the executives who approved the running of the ads should be … well you come to you own conclusion.

Do not think that marketing and advertising is simple. It is not. But it is not hard to test. It is not hard to add a tracking element to even bold institutional type promotions

Most big companies will not change much soon. However, use these examples as lessons on what to do and what not to do. As to upcoming comments on TV advertising, well there probably won’t be many since I am not in front of that medium very much. So stay tuned for rants in other areas of business development.

Coming up is my series on building blogs for profits. You are not going to want to miss it. It will help you start making some incremental money right now.

Steve Pohlit, business consultant writes articles based on his experience helping companies make extraordinary profits in a short period of time and structuring their business to continue making extraordinary profits. Register for his free course “How To Increase Proftis by 30% or More In 90 Days or Less at

Author: Steve Pohlit

Independent BEMER Distributor Real Estate Investor Business and Real Estate Coach, Consultant Professional Speaker, Author

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