Success is not a ‘sugar rush’

Saturday mornings are hardly the prime time TV spot for hard-hitting journalism or insightful commentary. They tend to be more a bedfellow of the 16-25 range of students and hangover victims. This ‘youth TV’, as it exists today, is more occupied with a heady mix of the sickly sweet and the deliciously bitter.

This past Saturday was no different. A whole 90 minutes was dedicated to the masterful career and body of work from the one and only Leona Lewis. Yes, the 2006 X-Factor winner.

Watching it with one disinterested eye, it became clear that the success of reality TV contestants, of which Leona is one of the ‘top’, are usually based more on the successes of hype machines and the dreaded media moguls. Paging Mr. Cowell.

This isn’t a criticism of reality TV music shows, nor the talent that it discovers. Clearly people like Leona do have the real talent that these shows auspiciously hunt for. This is more a reaction to the ominous glow of ‘X-Factor USA’, the younger and cooler sibling of the ‘Pop Idol’ family.

Leona Lewis is the epitome of the ‘Cowell Superstar’ – she has the adoration of the public, with global appeal and a media spotlight that other artists would be envious of. But, watching Leona pump out another scripted interview answer, I felt myself asking what her last single was. Or even her last two or three singles. Come to think of it, has she really released another album? Have I been living in a cave?

I like to think that my home isn’t a cave, so there must be some reasoning behind my lack of knowledge. So I’ve come to a conclusion.

‘Perceived Success’ is the name of the game. If the public think you are successful – that is all that matters. It has worked for all of the X-Factor’s stars so far, why won’t it work on the other side of the pond? Simon Cowell lauds his X-Factor finds as being the best in the business – creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may seem like a dirty trick, but isn’t it something we’d all do if we had a chance of success?

But what really counts, once the hype has faded and the countless breakfast television appearances are over, is quality.

How many of the X-Factor’s ‘future global superstars’ have fallen at the first hurdle? There is a reason why the icons of the past are regarded as such; there is quality and longevity in their product (in this case, the product being themselves).

So, what does this mean for you? It’s depends on your tastes – or even the tastes of your customers.
Cowell’s brand of ‘perceived success’ may have immediate benefits, but there really isn’t any competition with long term satisfaction and success. Take time building a strong foundation on which a brand can be built upon; and not the haphazard race to the skies that X-Factor promotes.

X-Factor is a sugar rush; a quality product is nourishment, and not some bland nuts and seeds. Be tasty.

Andrew Beedle


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