The Quirky Factor = priceless PR

As the nights draw in and my thoughts turn to the fact that a thieving vagabond stole my warm coat off a restaurant coat peg last winter (who steals a coat?!), the onset of autumn does bring some good with it. Yes, it’s hibernation time and that means one thing: autumn television is upon us! Hurrah.

And this also means, love it or loathe it, The X Factor has returned in all its primetime glory. Cue a large chunk of the British population (16.2 million to be exact) turning into die-hard weekend devotees of the most talked about talent show on the planet. Whilst a small part of me would like to boycott The X Factor, I hate to admit that it can be kind of watchable. It is also impossible to ignore its colossal popularity and PR gravitas, which was wholly verified yesterday. Protesters flooded social networking sites after contestant Gamu Nhengu, who can actually sing, failed to make the final 12 on Sunday whilst two other contestants got through on their ‘quirky’ factor, despite fluffing up their auditions.

Yesterday morning a fan site entitled “Gamu should have got through” was inundated with more than 135,000 registrations. The site averaged 500 new registrations every few minutes, and ITV has revealed that it has received more than 500 official complaints about Cole’s decisions on Sunday night.

Blimey. I know it was a odd decision, but it’s certainly telling when over 200,000 people can be bothered to sign a petition for a contestant on a singing competition, yet a recent research by The Data Partnership has revealed that 63% of Brits would not sign up to a charity’s Facebook page.  I know the marketing world seems to be constantly talking about the importance of social media, but here is the cold, hard proof about how powerful the marriage of brand awareness and social media can be. If something has got on people’s nerves, pair an immediate communication tool with an angry mob and you have a force to be reckoned with: X Factor bosses are now under immense pressure to disqualify one of the contestants that got through instead of Gamu. The immediacy of social media makes it the perfect tool for ranting, and boy did they rant.

I’d like to quote a commentator on the Brand Republic website here, as I simply couldn’t put it better myself: “When the ratings go up again and there is an X Factor spin, can we all just bow to whoever does the comms planning on this. If you want to know what the modern media world is like and how to live in it, you don’t need to look much further.” Enough said. Look – I’ve even written a blog on it too!

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