The most successful of talent shows, the juggernaut of dreams that is American Idol, has created some serious stars and been ratings gold for the Fox channel for over a decade. Idol Gives Back was an initiative conceived by Simon Fuller, with a mission to raise money and awareness of underprivileged children worldwide. Fundraising originated from a mix of donations from the television network, from sponsors such as Coca Cola, Ford, AT&T, Exxon Mobil and iTunes, as well as donations from the public.
Skating Panda acted as project director/producer of the Emmy-winning American Idol Special, Idol Gives Back (2007/8), including securing $17million in corporate sponsorship and philanthropic contributions in year one. A six-figure partnership agreement was negotiated with iTunes, and star names were signed up to perform on the night, including Bono and Jack Black. We organised visits to some of Kenya’s poorest communities for Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell and persuaded three US presidential candidates (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain) to appear on the show.
Along with invaluable public awareness-raising, over $140m over two years was donated to Save the Children, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Malaria No More, UNICEF and many other charities.