The concept appeals to important values.
American Idol is rooted in the ideals of democracy. It's a contest that gives everyone a chance to succeed. Viewers are able to vote and have a direct say in who wins. Moreover, we are able to intimately experience the emotions associated with democratic values in action. It is inspiring to watch these not-yet-celebrity-tainted young adults strive to realize their dreams. We can empathize with their ups and downs. We can share in their elation as they make it through a tough song or to the next round. We can relate to the agony of defeat, which last season was therapeutically celebrated through the ceremonial song "Bad Day," accompanied by an upbeat montage of the loser's journey.
The name brings alive the concept.
The brand name—derived from the original British series Pop Idol—not only encompasses the concept, it enhances it. The term Idol is global, used for centuries across cultures and religions around the world to mean "one who is worshipped or popular." It is a universal anchor. The term American is local, and this decision to localize demonstrates insight and sensitivity. Who we pick as our top candidate in America may not reflect whom other countries would select as their Idol. It is an adaptable facet of the name that can be customized for maximum relevance and impact. There is Canadian Idol, Indian Idol, Australian Idol, Philippine Idol, and Latin American Idol, to mention a few. By the way, several copycat entertainment concepts—American Inventor, America's Next Top Model, and America's Got Talent—could adopt the same "glocal" approach to naming in their quest to become worldwide franchises.
The execution stays fresh yet relevant.
The right things evolve; the right things stay the same. The host, judges, and rules have remained essentially intact from the first season, and any changes have been made for well-thought-out reasons. For example, in the fourth season, the age range for contestants was raised from 16-24 to 16-28 to attract more diversity. At the same time, while the core concept remains consistent, the rest is continually updated to deepen our connection with the brand and contestants and keep things fresh. The producers recruit legendary recording artists to coach the candidates, allow us to get to know the individuals beyond their musical talent, and pair up contestants for performances with current chart-topping musicians. They are never content to rest on their laurels. Healthy brands stay one step ahead of their consumers while being true to their underlying reason for being.
Hats off to the Idol franchise. We have every expectation that we're about to enjoy another entertaining and successful season here in the US. We'll be watching not only to cheer on new artists, but to look for ways to continue to learn and sharpen our marketing practices.