Coke Breaks Up with American Idol

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In a sign of the times and shifting pop culture influences, Coca-Cola is the latest big brand to end its sponsorship of the formerly formidable Fox giant American Idol.

Today Variety reports that Coke explained its decision to drop Idol after more than a decade:

“After 13 years, we feel it is the right time for the Coca-Cola brand to venture into new spaces and pursue other opportunities to connect with teens and leverage music as a passion point.”

Ad spending on the show has dropped nearly 50 percent over the past three years, with AT&T and Ford also stepping away from the show in order to reshape a relationship with the network that “goes much deeper than any individual program,” in the words of a Ford rep.

This news isn’t a huge shock; we’re surprised that Idol dominated the ratings for as long as it did. No institution is invincible (except perhaps the NFL), and the real meat of the story comes from research conducted by Coke’s media buying agency, MediaVest:

“…younger consumers thought less of music that was delivered to them in conjunction with traditional commercial message, but would view more positively any party that might offer more information about songs and artists or even deliver experiences associated with music.”

Sounds like it’s time for PR — and a few good “user experience”-focused agencies — to shine.