Sunday 20 December 2009

Political parties to advise X Factor after GOTV failure costs Cowell number one slot

The political parties are being urged to help advise Simon Cowell of the X Factor on how to mobilise public support, after the show's winner lost the race for the Christmas number one spot for the first time in five years.

'Simon was very generous in suggesting he could help revive interest in politics. So we feel that we should return the favour in his hour of need', said one eye-wateringly senior source who was pretending to have inside knowledge of the made-up cross-party talks.

Leading think-tank the Fabian Society, which was backing the Christmas number one rebellion suggests that a high-level political panel of Nick Clegg, Harriet Harman, Theresa May and former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern could help the X Factor judges to rethink their public strategy.

Political insiders suggested that there were at least three areas on which political veterans could help the X Factor.

Fabian General Secretary Sunder Katwala pointed to three crucial weaknesses where reality pop could learn a lot from politics.

'Firstly, they urgently need to address the weakness of their Get Out the Vote strategy, which was almost non-existent. They had 10 million people talking part on the telephone, but have only translated that into less than half a million sales of the single itself. Astonishingly, they don't seem to have knocked on a single door over the crucial last seven days of the campaign to try to make that interest count when it mattered.

Secondly, this seemed a very tired campaign this year. Simon Cowell seems to rely on a very traditional campaign, believing that prime-time television shows, immense radio coverage and expensive marketing and merchandising in the record shops will see him through. We can now see that he risked being far too complacent about the increasing importance of social networking. That may be difficult because authenticity and genuine engagement is of ever increasing importance, as we saw with the rebel campaign', he said.

Thirdly, X Factor is struggling to broaden its reach at a time when political parties are very aware of enormous demographic shifts in society.

'They really do need to broaden their reach. Few people will imagine that the X Factor could involve as many people as politics does with our prime-time General Election productions, where as many as 30 million people contribute their views. But they must be disappointed that the enormous prime-time television coverage still seems to engage fewer people than very low profile political contests like the European elections, where 15 million people voted despite there seeming to be a media blackout in place. So the X Factor does need to broaden its appeal beyond the youth demographic to keep pace with social change', said Katwala.

There was questioning of the X Factor media strategy too, after the X Factor winner throwing darts at a picture of his opponents gave the rebel insurgency front-page coverage in The Sun newspaper as the battle entered its final day.

But some people in the pub tonight felt the political strategists had missed the point.

'Simon Cowell tried to give Britain a Miley Cyrus cover as Christmas number one. If that was some sort of post-modern joke, it has gone over most people's heads. Give the winner of the X Factor a song which people might remember on new year's day, and he might be back in it', said somebody cutting rather more directly to the chase.

Still, Britain's political classes say they will stand ready to advise the X Factor on how to recover its appeal after the shock reversal.

'They have a choice of facing the public rebellion down with a 'business as usual' message, or showing some contrition and making it clear that lessons will be learnt. But talking about renewal will not be enough.

Nobody can doubt that there needs to be a real inquest', said another imaginary political strategist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who finds the dismal story template of how elections would be more interesting if they learnt from the x factor, big brother etc highly annoying laughed out loud at this one, great post. They spent so much effort selecting their X Factor candidate but got outmanoeuvred by a smart online mob.