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Tattoo Westlife on Louis Walsh’s Head and Take That on Gary’s or How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The X-Factor.

November 22, 2011

Ah, so, X-Factor is courting more controversy. But it seems that this one may well not be part of the leviathan PR machine that seems to keep a TV show in the news every day of the week.

Tulisia Contostavlos is a judge on the show. She launched a celebrity perfume last month: it’s called ‘The Female Boss’. She has a tattoo on her right forearm saying the same. She apparently has a ‘signature pose’ (who was the last person to have one of them? Brucie? Atlas?), where she shows off her tattoo at the beginning of each show. I am sure you can see where this is going. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before people did start tattooing brands upon themselves, and this, being maybe a mantra of hers, is not as bad as myself getting Nike put on my forehead. But still, come on.

So what does this mean? X-Factor is on ITV, not the BBC, so why the noise about the blatant plug? Well, in the UK, we used to have rules preventing product placement in ‘actual’ TV content (ie outside the adverts). But this year, we relaxed those rules, along with the rest of the EU, and in the UK we must display a small logo at the re-start of each show that uses product placement. So, could ITV just whack a little logo at the start of the show and let her get on with it? Probably, yes. But then perhaps other brands on the show would want more coverage, on the judges body parts. X-Factor has already been in trouble for something similar last season with the promotion of singles from Micky Bubbles and someoneeslseicantremember.

The thing is, X-Factor is always in trouble it seems. Rhianna wore shoes with a naughty word on them at the weekend. There are claims the show is rigged, that it is no longer a singing contest (was it ever?) and many other huge crimes against humanity.

But it is a HUGE show. How many others can you name as big and as commercially viable as it? Top Gear? Stricly Come Dancing? 2004-era Big Brother? So what does Ofcom do? It either has to pull the reins in on one of the superstars – something that reminds me of the outcry when Usain Bolt was disqualified for one false start – or treat it as just the same as the rest? We all know what the answer to that question is, but then it raises another: why hasn’t Ofcom taken serious action against the show when it routinely flouts the rules?

Yet, the X-Factor is what it is. If we want excellent singing, we should watch opera and if we want glamour, sequins, backing dancers and emotional soundtracks, we watch the X-Factor. It is unashamedly all over the place, big, bold as brass and mad. And that what makes people love it.

So what is the solution for this particular conundrum? The papers suggest Tulisia won’t be able to do her pose at the start of the show. But that would draw more attention to it again, thereby defeating Ofcom’s objective. So maybe X-Factor does have such a good PR company that it double-guesses the regulators to get a win-win situation. Can anyone get me their phone number?

As a final word – it seems that viewing figures are dropping for this season, with advertisers wanting their money back. Maybe product placement will be more prevalent next year, as it always has been in American Idol?

Also – The Guardian has an entire section of their website dedicated to the X-Factor. I’m scared for humanity.

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