Red-hot property sparks selling spree

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“American Idol” didn’t reinvent the wheel. Just the cash register.

Television’s hottest property, which seems to get hotter each season, has become a multimedia franchise that’s worth around $2.5 billion, according to estimates given in Advertising Age.

The core of that value is $500 million in advertising from the TV show, but the show itself has increasingly become a mothership that spins off dozens of other promotions.

To hype the new season that will start on Jan. 16, Nestle is producing 79 million “American Idol” candy bars. Coke is putting the logo on millions of red cans.

Some 40 licensees are planning everything from “American Idol” attractions at theme parks to “AI” Monopoly games and “AI” ice cream, whose flavors will include “Hollywood Cheesecake” and “Drumstick Diva.”

Star Style will be selling the outfits worn by the finalists.

Fremantle Media, which owns the rights to “AI,” told Ad Age it hopes to extend the show’s advertising and promotional window by streaming it online after the TV season ends.

None of this would be happening, of course, if the show weren’t TV’s hottest ticket. Not only has viewership grown 50 percent in its first five seasons, but winners from Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson to Fantasia have parlayed their victories into radio play and CD sales.

In a multimedia age when it’s difficult for an artist to get any sort of widespread attention, “American Idol” is a show that can still do it.

At its core, the show is just a descendant of institutions like “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour” and “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” But through modern marketing it has taken their success to a far higher level – turning “Cha-ching!” from a discreet byproduct to a national roar.

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