Frankie Cocozza’s Meltdown is an Unrestrained, Uncontrolled Toxic Mess- It’ll do Wonders for the X Factor, though Little for M&S
The X Factor’s token Rock n Roll hairbrush Frankie Cocozza was splashed in lurid glory all over the red tops this morning: you can’t beat a good old fashioned tabloid coke scandal. Especially when it comes courtesy of Frankie, the boy who wanted to be a mashup of Richards, Moon and Shelley. The question, however, has to be where the duty of care lies as the show washes its hands of Frankie at the precise moment he becomes more useful to them offscreen than on.
I’ve written about the show a lot on this blog: it’s always thrived on controversy. Syco’s PR lifeblood comes from outrageous stories that dig their claws in to the tabloid column inches and don’t let go for days: Katie Waissel’s gran, Chloe Mafia’s Prostitution, Ceri Rees’s humiliation and countless others. After making it through Boot Camp, Cocozza was pretty much handed an Ikea flatpack ‘hellraiser’ lifestyle, which he duly assembled within minutes and then attempted to cram up his nose.
For a time, he served his purpose: he was a decent story factory, most recently grabbing the show a page in the Mirror after his first girlfriend took them a kiss and tell. However, arguably things became a little too real after he started appearing inebriated on the show and prompted a full scale Ofcom investigation.
In deciding to fire him, the show have timed things perfectly: they can now distance themselves from whatever happens to the kid, while reaping the benefits of red top coverage that savages Cocozza while leaving them untouched.
One party that won’t be welcoming the news is M&S. Having proudly gloated about their X Factor themed Christmas ads earlier this year, they’ve found themselves a victim of ad folk’s thinking: close minded, unresponsive, short-term. They’re now saddled with a decaying, toxic brand, slowing down their promotion rather than giving them the gentle boost they’d presumably intended. I’ve been banging on about this for months, though they’re yet to send me through a 500 grand contract and a lifetime supply of orangey mini bites.
What’s more, it’s not an isolated moment of damage. The Mirror today ran with the line that Frankie had spent a large portion of his £3000 fee for the commercials on the very same ‘wild nights’ which got him expelled. Damage limitation has been implemented- though I doubt anyone buys the line (pardon the pun) that the money was just a ‘discretionary payment’ from Fremantle- but had M&S sought the advice of decent PRs in the first place, it wouldn’t be a necessity.
More pressingly, we must pray to whichever God is listening for poor Frankie, whose inevitable meltdown should be cosseted by some kind of duty of care from ITV or Syco. Following his 12 and 1/2 minutes of fame, he’s been cast away from the golden circle he was briefly permitted to enter, and the only possible result is bitterness, ironically the main recipe for perpetual obscurity.