Now, firstly let me say to those reading this post...focus on the point, not the fact that I watch Australian Idol!!! Focus!!!
So I'm not sure how many people suffer the painful affliction that Yil and I do, but we are glued to watching Australian Idol...not for the sheer musical talent thrust upon us like a sharp jolt from Tom Jones hips, and not for the gripping suspense similar to a good dose of Dynasty (the Blake Carrington days!), but really because like most people, we love watching a train wreck in action!
And along the way, it's hard not to form an opinion on who will be the next Australian Idol (jeez, I sound like Mark Holden!), and also start to see the huge talent chasm that starts to form as the wheat and the chaff fall to opposite sides of the publics favor.
But last night was one of the worst travesties of Australian Idol, or so called, "live TV" that I have ever witnessed, and makes me ask the question, should these shows be forced to be more transparent?
Now, for those who didn't watch it, a young lady by the name of Lavina Williams was voted off. No big drama there, except that, for everyone from the judges to me and Yil in our lounge room, the complete dodginess of her being voted off, while the continually lack luster (and downright boring) Lisa Mitchell, lived to fight another day! What's really horrible though, is everyone knew it, and for poor Lisa Mitchell, she had to endure the scorch of the camera and the crowd, knowing it should have been her and not Lavina...and all the time, wandering, WTF happened here!?
It's easy though to see what happened, it's the classic syndrome of "Public Opinion" meets "Commercial Clout"! See, the way Idol has worked for many years has been that the public voted via SMS for the artist they thought should be Idol, and the recording and media companies that fund Australian Idol would reap the sales benefit of "producing" an artist that has already qualified their target audience! It was a match made in heaven! That was, until, the public's purchasing pattern was not inline with their voting. All I have to say is Casey Donovan! She was the public's pleasure, yet she has struggled to sell! Why? Well, because she was the underdog, and bucked the norm, so people enjoyed seeing her win...but they didn't necessarily want to have a relationship with her post Idol! This stuffed up the "Alley Oop" effect for the recording companies, and suddenly their investment in Idol had become a liability, as they had to contractually carry Casey while she does SFA as an artist.
Onto last night. The contrast between the marketing potential of Lavina Williams and lets say Lisa Mitchell was palpable. And last nights decision reeked of something more orchestrated than a simple voting count. It really felt like the powers that be had strongly influenced the decision, to ensure that the "People's Choice" is also extremely marketable, and transformable! In essence, it doesn't matter who the public wants to win Idol, the person who will win Idol is the one that represents the strongest marketability profile for the powers behind the throne.
What's alarming is the reaction of the judges too. Mark Holden was visibly shocked, and Kyle Sandilands was clearly disgusted by the departure of Lavina. And all the while, I'm sure the public was thinking, "Hey, that's strange, I voted for x, and so did everyone I spoke with, so who voted the other way?". And what's even more alarming than the judges reaction is the lack of visibility about the voting!? I had a quick look around the website, and couldn't see any breakdown of the voting? No log or list that shows the voting basis, you know, # of Votes, based on States and dates, things like that. It's just a black box. Which is a little disconcerting if you are spending your hard earned (or your parents) to vote, when the impact on the outcome is not what you think it is.
Again, it's a pretty valuable lesson for those dealing with product and the public... if you think you're going to pull a swifty, and hope no one will ask questions, think again! The public today has probably the best bullsh$t radars ever, and aren't afraid to openly discuss something smelly when they smell it! So rather than trying to orchestrate an outcome for your own benefit, think about what the public really wants, and satisfy that...the long term outcome is always going to be more constructive!