PRODUCT PLACEMENT OF THE DECADE

Coca-Cola/‘American Idol’ In retrospect, it seemed like a great idea for the times: In the age of DVRs, a live show that junior, mom and the grandparents could all watch together. But with its 20 …

Coca-Cola/‘American Idol’

PRODUCT PLACEMENT OF THE DECADE

In retrospect, it seemed like a great idea for the times: In the age of DVRs, a live show that junior, mom and the grandparents could all watch together. But with its 20 million-plus viewers, American Idol wasn’t just a successful program, it was a phenomenon. “Very few shows scale like that and have that kind of watercooler buzz,” said Devery Holmes, CEO of Spark Alliance Marketing. At the center of the action was Coca-Cola, which got straight commercial time plus other perks like a Coke-red waiting room for contestants, complete with a Coke cooler, a Coke pinball machine and Coke pictures on the walls. Those who looked a little closer noticed Coke’s signature ribbon sweeping up behind the couch on stage. Best—and most controversial—of all, however, were the tank-sized cups of Coke on the judges’ table. Ford and AT&T; got a lot of visibility as well, but the affiliation helped Coke keep its brand image up to the moment. —Robert Klara

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