As someone who dislikes reality TV, I try and pay as little attention to it as possible. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to escape Fox’s advertisements for the new season of American Idol. Seeing these ads brought to mind the well-publicized conflict between Mariah Carey and Nikki Minaj during auditions for the show this past fall. Fox and its affiliates have done little to defuse the situation and some affiliates are using the feud to hype the new season1.

With viewership of the 2012 season finale at an all time low for the series and viewership for the season running 30% lower than the previous season, it is entirely possible (and maybe even likely) that Fox is creating or at least playing up this “feud” in an effort to increase American Idol’s ratings2. Even if it is successful at improving their ratings, I have to wonder if there will be any unintended impact from this kind of publicity.

Will this situation help or hurt Mariah and Nikki in their musical careers? Will it negatively impact American Idol itself by making it seem cheap and tawdry? Will there be a change in the types of people that view the show? Will it change how current or perspective advertisers see the show? I hope that someone at Fox has spent time evaluating this type of publicity and any tradeoffs that were made.

Do you have thoughts about my questions, a guess about how this will affect American Idol’s ratings, or stories about publicity that has backfired? Post them in the comments section!

Aaron Baldwin, Designer