American Idol, which started its tenth year in January, has long been the king of reality television shows. But even Idol can get old — so its producers have come up with a way to add a little fun to the brand. Starting tomorrow, the ten finalists on the show will be used in a unique way on Facebook. Each of them will be filmed by Cameo Stars, a company that embeds video of celebrities into a Facebook profile page so it appears the celebrities are speaking directly to the Facebook user.
Cameo Stars, which launched last August, has worked with celebrities as Lindsay Lohan, Carmen Electra and Kim Kardashian (above) to offer up video holiday greetings. During the January football playoff season, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and other professional football players appeared, either free or for Facebook credits, to pump up their fan base.
Now Facebook users will be able to have American Idol contestants deliver a birthday greeting from one Facebook user to another at a cost of $1 each.
It could be the beginning of marketing deals that bring together Cameo Stars with a host of advertisers. For example, the concept will soon be used by Under Armour in an upcoming campaign and to promote the film Kung Fu Panda 2, according to the New York Times.
As for the Idol contestants, Cameo Stars looked like a good fit for two reasons, according to Olivier Delfosse, VP for interactive at FremantleMedia Enterprises, co-producer of American Idol in the U.S. "The first is generally to increase the equity of the brand and build up the brand and the other is to develop compelling products that we can sell and sell," Delfosse told the Times. "For this particular product, there is a feeling that it's customized for you because it's being delivered to you on your own page and because a character is walking toward you and talking toward the camera."
While the deal is currently a revenue split partnership between Cameo Stars and the producers of American Idol, Daren Hornig, the Cameo Stars chief executive, would like to see an advertiser get involved so the videos could be offered for free. Hornig told the Times that "A brand-funded model is definitely one we're seriously considering and some of that is just timing and getting a sponsor on board in the right time frame."
The American Idol deal could increase the use of Cameo Stars' videos because it is such a high profile show. In addition, for every contestant video purchased, a Facebook user is entered into a sweepstakes to potentially win tickets to the show's season finale.
Just one more way Facebook is changing the face of brand promotion.