The plan for rejuvenating "American Idol" in its tenth season includes a big dose of relationship marketing -- Twitter accounts for finalists, Facebook voting and experiential marketing -- the last in the form of a roving bus/museum called Idol Across America.
Adages caught up with the 16-city tour at its New York stop outside Fox HQ on Sixth Avenue for a quick review and all we can say is: "It's pitchy, dawg."
Outside were set up tents, one with a life-size cardboard cutout of the judges at their table -- Steven Tyler, J Lo and Randy Jackson -- that the public could pose with; a photographer gave out cards with a link so that the fourth judge (apologies to Ellen) could later view his or her picture online. A karaoke stand was set up nearby for passersby to "try out," but only one brave soul seemed game on our visit. Visitors were encouraged to do their best Ryan Seacrest and bellow, "Thisssss is American Idol!" for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles.
Despite the fact that it was lunch hour in midtown, there were very few gawkers aboard the bus, which is small and cramped with Idol memorabilia: Carrie Underwood's evening gown (tiny); Randy Jackson's boots (enormous), Seacrest's suit (sharp); and, bearing the initials of his late brother Adam, David Cook's Gibson (gleaming).
But the funniest display was, encased carefully in a dome, three red cups carrying the signature Coca-Cola script. The placard reads: "Original red judges cups used by Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell on American Idol."
Now that's product placement at its finest.