Posts Tagged ‘X Factor’

The poppy appeal brand under attack

Monday, November 8th, 2010 by Jon Clements


Brands that could be considered sacrosanct are not immune from criticism – and sometimes from the most unexpected quarters.

This year’s Poppy Appeal, staged annually around the time of Remembrance Sunday to raise money for the work of the Royal British Legion, has attracted fire from veterans who accuse it of “showbiz hype” and being a “drum roll of support for current wars”.

The former military personnel claim that the true purpose of the poppy – to remind people of the “horror and futility of war is forgotten and ignored”.

The Royal British Legion fired back in its defence: “We are the natural custodians of remembrance but we are living in contemporary society…there is nothing in our appeal or campaigning which supports or, does not support, war: we are totally neutral.”

Nevertheless, it’s a tough one to defend when those who, in theory, should champion your cause take arms against it.

But do the veterans have a point? Does launching a campaign around a serious and sombre subject with girl group, The Saturdays, diminish its solemnity? Does it devalue the message that those who died in battle were the victims of human folly and we shouldn’t forget the stupidity of war?

But the risk the Poppy Appeal runs by looking trendy is nothing new. Eyebrows were raised in 1997 when the Spice Girls – at the height of Girl Power mania – were used to make the campaign more appealing to young people in light of falling revenues. But, as this PR Week analysis at the time shows, the risky move paid off.

It’s a balance the British Legion needs to strike; between being seen to muddy the message about war and being able to fund ongoing help for our military victims of conflict. And as the last remaining veterans from World War 2, and their tales of all-encompassing conflict touching millions, pass away, the more remote we become from the topic of war.

The Poppy Appeal is taking a pragmatic approach that clearly doesn’t please everyone. But if that means getting the judges of the currently most watched TV programme X Factor to wear poppies – prompting questions on Twitter as to what they are – the British Legion is making the best job of a sensitive situation.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Talent No Longer a Factor?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009 by Chris Bull

After several years of doing my best to ignore it, about a month ago I was forced to watch an episode of X-Factor. When two adorable little girls ask if you will watch their favourite show with them, who can say no? An hour later, I was already looking forward to next Saturday.

Seems my conversion came at the right time, because never has the show attracted as many column inches, courted as much controversy or polarised viewers as much as it is right now.

So is this due to the higher quality of contestants? Being a newby to the show it is hard for me to say, but no one this year seems to be another Alexandra or Leona. No, this year it is not extraordinary talent that is pulling viewers in, but an extraordinary lack thereof in the form of John and Edward.

Now if we were to take a reality check on this, the only thing this pair should ever win is a Vanilla Ice look-a-like competition, but their gallant efforts and apparently unrelenting resilience to booing and criticism has captured the public’s hearts. Jedward are a draw, pure and simple, and it is perhaps because of the conspicuous lack of talent elsewhere in the X-Factor camp this year that these two provide a welcome distraction.

Simon Cowell, the proverbial Don Corleone of the X-Factor franchise, knows a thing or two about pulling in viewers and this year Jedward has provided him with a dream ticket. He needs to be a bit careful though – when it suited the papers for him to say so, he would proclaim they were terrible, awful, that they should have not come this far. But when he actually got his chance to vote them off….well he couldn’t do that could he, not with viewing figures up 1.8 million on this time last year and the value of advertising slots going through the roof.

Perhaps what Cowell didn’t expect, however, was that last week they would be in the bottom two against, arguably, the most talented singer on the show. If they were up against Lloyd, it would have been wrong to have kept them in, but at least justifiable. Against Lucie, however, it simply demonstrated that the show is no longer about talent.

In the short term, keeping them in was perhaps a shrewd move. The British public see and hear talented singers all day long on the radio, on the TV and on their Ipod. They don’t get to see a couple of lunatics making fools out of themselves every week. It isn’t all that hard to see their appeal.

But Cowell needs to remember what the show is meant to be about. It is meant to be, after all, a talent competition and as it begins to value novelty over talent, it will begin to lose its credibility. Once that happens, any show can begin to go downhill.

It may be hard to imagine that one day the X-Factor may be struggling for viewers, but remember how popular Big Brother was once upon a time?

If the show is to maintain its long-term future it needs to stick to its simple yet brilliant premise of turning an unknown into an international singing superstar, because talent does not go out of fashion nor is it a novelty. And while the papers are lapping this up at the moment, they could easily turn against the show if that suits their agenda.

About Chris Bull

Account Exec for Staniforth PR, based in the TBWA\ Building in Whitfield Street, London. Areas of interest include politics, the car industry and sport.

Because She’s Worth It…

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by Jo Rosenberg

The nation’s sweetheart, Cheryl Cole, has landed a global advertising deal with L’Oreal Paris making her the first British woman to be signed by the company since Kate Moss in 1998.

The Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge will appear in a major TV campaign this month following the launch of a new range, Elvive Full Restore 5, in the UK.

It’s reported that L’Oreal tested a number of UK celebrities and unsurprisingly, Cheryl was the clear favourite, held in great affection by the British public.

But what is it that makes this Geordie lass a national treasure? From humble beginnings on a Newcastle council estate to gracing the cover of UK Vogue, Cheryl Cole has well and truly been through the public mill (remember the incident with the toilet attendant?). But since winning public sympathy when husband Ashley Cole allegedly cheated on her, and replacing Sharon Osbourne as a judge on X Factor, she has been the crush of many girls, boys, men and women.

In fact, over the last couple of years there appears to be a distinct lack of criticism for Cheryl generally. The press love her, girls want to be her and we know what boys want to do…

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, she talks candidly about her life in the media glare, often referencing her Geordie roots and admitting that she “doesn’t trust anyone except her mother and her dogs”.

The interview also reports how, on set of the L’Oreal TV ad, she humbly admits that she can’t quite believe she’s been given the opportunity to say those iconic words “because you’re worth it” and, in other recent press interviews, when asked how she feels about being involved in the campaign, she’s a PR dream: “I have always loved the brand, to be given this opportunity is amazing.”

Cheryl Cole has cleverly managed to position herself as a fashionista, a songstress and a TV favourite whilst retaining an air of openness, accessibility and honesty unseen in the likes of Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss.

Love or loath her (unlikely the latter) with a deal rumoured to be worth half a million pounds, L’Oreal clearly think she’s worth it….

X Marks the spot

Monday, December 15th, 2008 by Jon Clements


So, it’s over for another year. And what will a reputed 15 million TV viewers do on a Saturday night now the latest X Factor has been won?

In a supposedly Internet age, when commercial broadcasters are running scared from the all-powerful web, and an era of fragmented television, the viewing figures for the X Factor are staggering. Not that they are remotely close to the legendary audiences for Morecambe and Wise (28 million for the 1977 Christmas special, bless ’em) or those for the 1970s Generation Game, but it’s still good going.

And despite the voice and indisputable talent of X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, the programme isn’t remotely about music. The other acts that paraded the stage with the winner on Saturday night were crushingly average, despite the encouragement from the judges. If you want pop music, then watch Jools Holland’s Later or the BBC’s Electric Proms; the X Factor is a national shared experience about the drama of dreams coming true, or being dashed at the whim of Simon Cowell – not music.

Strictly Come Dancing has achieved similar mass appeal reinventing a very tired format from the annals of television history (when the requisite “glamour” was provided by newsreader, Angela Rippon) with a healthy dose of celebrity sex appeal, fabulous costumes and a “behind the scenes” look at the acts being human.

 Meanwhile, Internet only programmes are supposedly coming of age, attracting audiences of up to a million. But the difference with online content (BBC iPlayer aside) is that the audience is viewing it when it wants, not necessarily in a simultaneous expression of telly togetherness. With a million online views at best against X-Factor’s 15, Saturday nights seem – for now – safe for broadcasters. But how far away are we from families huddling around a screen watching the Internet?  

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''