American Idol’s One Big Marketing Lesson

I’ve never been one to watch much TV and running your own company doesn’t leave you much time at all, but I’ve found myself tuning in to American Idol a lot. Love Siobhan, love Crystal’s talent too, but too much cocky attitude for me. Lee’s my fave guy…OK that’s enough. Oh yeah, I’m into it big time.

What’s been driving my nuts about this show is this over used contestant quote that seems to arise every time someone’s performance tanks, “I had fun…I was just trying to have some fun with it.”

Are you kidding me?

I don’t care if you’re on American Idol’s stage, your high school’s stage or a kindergarten school stage and you have non-speaking role as a tree or a rock  – you have to bring it!

Have fun later counting your money or bowing to a genuine applause.

And, if you’re in it to win it – you better be or don’t waste everyone’s time – listen to the judges (or in business your customers, sales receipts, food critics etc.,). It’s amazing to me how few of these kids actually listen to the judges who have been around the block a few times. They’d rather pay more attention to the over the top audiences who give everyone a standing “O” whether the rock or not.

These are the same Little League parents who give trophy’s to every team regardless of where they finished. Thanks Mom and Dad!

BTW – Do you notice how the word “great” is used so many times – not just on AI, but generally speaking? Ugh!

When these AI kids tank and say, “I had fun,” (when it’s clear the judges and I didn’t have any fun at all) I just want to reach through my TV and slap them. I’ve been waiting for one of the judges – Simon or Ellen would be perfect – to say, “Well we’re not having fun listening to you, so STOP IT!

These “having fun” kids are choosing songs they feel are safe simply because they’re afraid to fail. Are you like them in business?

Put another way, instead of trying to win…they’re trying not to lose…they’re not giving it their all and leaving everything out on the stage.

Note:  Similar to the NFL’s “prevent defense” – I hate it – worst scheme ever designed – that’s another post.

If these kids gave their performances everything they had – and not be afraid of failing –  there would be less tears because they knew deep in their heart they gave it their very best and they’ll sleep better at night.

Live with no regrets.

It’s certainly been true for me. And, I see it in business every day with the lack of breakthrough ideas and vanilla milkshake task mentality efforts.

A few months ago on one of the world’s biggest stages – the Winter Olympics – if you paid attention to sports like downhill skiing, you’ll see that those who really pushed it and got on the edges of their skis either broke world records or crashed – there’s no in between – but both kinds of skiers probably slept well at night knowing they gave it their all.

Breakthrough, WOW performances are always a delicate balance between “edgy” efforts and crashes – both are memorable!

However, if you’re just trying to have fun, boring and in middle road – I guarantee that you’ll get run over!

P.S.: One more thing.  Notice how the judges often say, “I think” which is weak language. Instead of saying something like, “I think that was your worst performance ever.” Say, “That was your worst performance ever.” Much stronger and effective use if language.

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