Rent “Quiz Show”

May 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Numerous media are reporting a possible voting scandal for “American Idol:” AT&T employees at viewing parties in Arkansas handed out cell phones and gave texting lessons which allegedly divulged the secrets of power texting–all to the advantage of The Natural State’s favorite son, Kris Allen, the eventual winner.

AT&T is a major sponsor of top-rated “American Idol,” showcase of America’s greatest singers and its favorite pastime, texting (best done with AT&T’s products and services as the plum sponsorship would suggest). AT&T, the producers of American Idol, and Fox must convincingly address the incidents in Arkansas. There is no hope of anything “blowing over” in the Internet age. Even though Domino’s is generally lauded for its handling of the YouTube video of employees making a “comedic” contaminated sandwich, the chain was criticized for an initial lag in officially responding.

If anyone doubts how seriously our country takes its televised weekly competitions, rent “Quiz Show,” the 1994 film about the TV quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Certain programs fed contestants answers to guarantee audience favorites return matches and bigger prizes. When the secret broke, prosecutors and the US Congress got involved (granted this was a pre-Warren Commission/Vietnam/Watergate threshold for conspiracy and outrage).

Time for PR to defend the megabrands of the telecom company, the hit show and the TV network. Time for full disclosure of what happened in Arkansas, a satisfactory explanation of how voting is conducted and tabulated, proof that the outcome wasn’t fixed, reassurance that it won’t happen again, and effusive apologies to any viewers dismayed by any hint of impropriety. Extra points for AT&T if it can use its prodigious capabilities to isolate texts sent from the party favor phones and exclude them from the tally. Go, now.

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Entry filed under: Crisis Communications, Public Relations. Tags: , , , , , .

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