Posted by Abe Sauer on December 14, 2010 12:30 PM
The British version of Simon Cowell's other talent juggernaut, X-Factor, appears to be in a little trouble over accusations that the show has been clandestinely dabbling in product placement — a big no-no in the U.K., where laws governing commercials within programming are are "relaxing" (including "retroactively") but not quickly enough for Cowell.
The American version of X-Factor, set to debut next year, will have no such worry. The only troubling decision X-Factor product placement reps need to make State-side is which soda brand it should allow to fill the show with product. Deadline reports the show is holding a "a $50 million to $100 million auction" between Pepsi and Coke for sponsorship rights.
The big question: is it worth it?
Coke, having bought its place on American Idol for less than $10 million during the show's first season, subsequently expanded its onscreen role during Idol to more interactive tie-ins, including a cup design contest.
The original Coke-branded trophies, placed like name placards in front of the American Idol judges, have been changed to Coke's favored fiery red, the better to grab the audience's attention. Since then, Coke's deal has grown to cost the brand upwards of $35 million a year, expanding to include in-show mentions and the brand's right to reference Idol in its digital marketing.
Aside from the never-ending argument about the value of Coke's "exposure," does Coca-Cola's presence on Idol actually attract or increase Coke purchasing?
Coke's overall market share (along with Pepsi's) has been on a consistent decline for practically all the years Coke has sponsored Idol. While that decline is a result of many factors, including changing beverage preferences, would champions of Coke's deal suggest that Coke's slide would be worse without the Idol tie-ins? It's hard to believe that Coke's presence on Idol significantly increases brand awareness. Does it convert drinkers?
As the beverage brands' marketers weigh the price of jumping on the X-Factor boat, another key question they must answer to their CEOs: With the tussling soda giants at or near 100% consumer marketplace awareness, what, specifically, do these extremely expensive sponsorships net?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.