Trend: What Do Glenn Beck and American Idol Have In Common

in Strategy & Trends | by Ethan Lyon


Pop Culture Trend: Cheers and Jeers
Trend Tags: Glenn Beck, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, NBC, Harry Potter, Good Vs Evil

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

With consumer outrage at financial institutions, there has been a renewed attitude about good vs. evil. This polarization has reflected in pop culture with such films as Monsters VS Aliens and web sensations like Red VS. Blue. However, the top TV shows of 2009 illustrate that it’s more complicated than just black and white, good vs. evil — everyone has their own winner. Increasingly, we want get behind “our guy or girl” and cheer them on. The Cheers and Jeers trend is about being passionate and getting behind people you most identify with. At times it is the fight between good and evil, while at other times it’s about picking “your winner.”

Key Elements
Good VS Evil — In recent years, headlines have been marked by corporate fraud and scandals. The back-door dealings that lead up to the financial crisis have polarized consumer attitudes. These shifts in attitude have reflected in pop culture. Consider the top ten movies of 2009. Of the top ten movies, over half of them have clearly defined antagonists. Transformers 2 ranked #1, followed by such blockbusters as Harry Potter and even Monsters VS Aliens.

Picking Sides — Not always are competitions as simplistic as good vs evil. Sometimes it’s about which competitor you can most relate to. Consider the the three TV shows of 2008: #1 American Idol, #2 Dancing with the Stars, and #3 NBC Sunday Night Football. For each of these reality shows, it’s not about the good and bad guy, it’s about whom we have more of a connection with. Though some of us rooted for Lil Rounds, at the end of the day, viewers were for or against Adam Lambert?

Key Statistics

  • There were nearly 100 million votes for American Idol 2009
  • Transformers 2 ranks #2 on the best selling movies of 2009
  • Red VS. Blue (based on Halo) ranks #3 in the top web TV shows
  • Seven of the top 10 best-selling video games of 2009 are competitive (e.g. Mario Kart Wii) and / or good vs evil (e.g. Resident Evil)

Take Away
Ultimately, the Cheers and Jeers trend is about passion. Drumming-up support for your brand is about striking at the core of your customer. What is it that really drives them? Consider the top digital influencers in news and politics, such as Fox News and NPR. Fox News polarizes its audience by maintaining a strong, republican stance on issues. With such personalities as Glenn Beck, Fox has defined itself as a clearly rightist network. On the other end, NPR illustrates a more “fair and balanced” view. Providing both sides to every story, NPR strives for the real story. It is through this journalistic honesty that the brand adds value and purpose to the marketplace. Their success can be seen by the generous financial support from their audience. In many ways, NPR and Fox News polarize audiences. Both news organizations take a strong stance — tapping into their audiences core passions. How can your brand take a stance?

Read all of the 2009 Pop Culture Trends

Image by Peter Suneson from Stock.Xchng