No, Simon Cowell Isn't Launching a Talent Show in Antarctica

Droga5 tortures the acerbic host in new ad

The one time I interviewed Simon Cowell, following Season 2 of American Idol in 2003, he predicted a big future for reality competitions on U.S. broadcast networks—as long as producers "don't get too stupid with it." 

Well, this week Cowell appeared to get too stupid with it, when he tweeted that he was launching a show called Take the Stage, Antartica! 

Yes, a reality competition that would find the hottest new talent in the coldest, most desolate part of the world. Even the #Ad hashtag in the tweet didn't throw people, as many assumed that meant it was an ad for the ridiculous-sounding show it. 

It wasn't. It was an ad for something else. See the reveal here: 

The spot, for Barclaycard, was made by Droga5 London. 

It promotes the bank's "Repayment Calculator," which shows you how to pay a bit more each month toward your credit-card balance, reducing the amount of interest you pay in the long run. This would seem to be bad for the bank—much like an Antarctica show would be bad for Cowell's career. 

In an apt media buy, the spot got its first TV airing on Tuesday night on Britain's Got Talent, the actual talent competition for which Cowell serves an an actual judge. 

"I wanted to work on this campaign because I love the fact that Barclaycard has created something that's entirely in its customers' interests," Cowell said in a statement. "Paying off a little extra each month could save a lot in the long term, and it's important to know the difference it can make." 

It's nice to see Cowell getting the Survival Billboard treatment for the cause, too. Hopefully it was a long day on set for the old boy. 

And for the record, Cowell has gotten a bit stupid with it before. Anyone remember Cupid? Exactly. 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.