I am one of the few people who actually still watch American Idol. This week on Tuesday, the Idol finalists paid tribute to Elton John. All was going according to plan. Steven Tyler was calling everyone “beautiful.” Jennifer Lopez was beautiful herself as usual. Randy Jackson was pretty generous in his compliments. Ryan was his usual charming self. All that being said, there was one one major gaffe in the Tuesday show of American Idol.
For as long as the show has been on the air, it has had two major sponsors: Ford and Coca-Cola. All season long, American Idol shows ads for Ford. Finalists perform in weekly Ford music videos, and the final two receive a Ford vehicle. Coca-Cola is the other major sponsor. The show shows ads, has their own “backstage” Coke-themed room, and the judges, of course, drink their drink-of-choice from Coca-Cola cups.
Regular viewers know all of this. So when James Durbin finished his flaming version of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, Ryan Seacrest commented on the flames on stage. Durbin joked back that he had so much hairspray in his air and was lucky to not have experienced a “Pepsi moment.” (He was referring to an incident where deceased Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire on a Pepsi commercial site.) Seacrest hurriedly looked into the camera and reminded the audience that the show was “sponsored by Coca-Cola.”
I noticed this immediately and thought, “Wow. Coca-Cola must OWN American Idol.” It was entertaining to see Ryan so nervous; Randy was also shocked at the less-than-ten-second incident. Product placement is a big deal for especially prime time shows because advertisers know people will be watching at those golden hours. Coca-Cola is so successful that I highly doubt they need to worry about a innocent slip of Durbin’s stammering tongue.