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The Bold and the Bingo Hall

Without doubt, the histories and traditions of the USA and the UK are linked inextricably, but it is no secret that our cultural mindset is quite different. If our soap operas are a window on our society, you can imagine that the characters of British soap Eastenders would be far happier playing free bingo than would the glamourous stars of The Bold and the Beautiful. Luckily, it is more soap viewers than soap stars that help make bingo one of most popular games in the world.

It is still the case that the majority of bingo players are female - both in the United States and for our British cousins. In both cases, it is ladies that make up the majority of the soap opera audiences. With this in mind, surely the next proposal for the Shark Tank panel is an online bingo game based on our favorite soaps. Does "Forrester, Thorne, number four" really not sound as though it should come from the flaming lips of a bingo caller?

The potential is endless. To mix it up, the caller could select soaps that are popular the world over. From Australia the logical choice would be to select some stars of Neighbours ("Number three, here's Toadie" or "Number fifty three, Karl Kennedy"). The United States could chip in with "Nicole Kiriakis, number six" from Days of our Lives or "Beth Logan, number one" from The Bold and the Beautiful.

Across the Atlantic (where there are several to choose from) there could be "Eileen Grimshaw, number four" from Coronation Street and "Stefanie Dean, number sixteen" from Hollyoakes.

For obscure choices and depending in which country the game is being played, there could be extra points awarded if the audience can name the soap from which the character hails. A double bonus awarded if they can select the character's relevance to the plot, or status on the show. Naturally this would have to be some sort of quick-fire buzz in, or multiple choice where bonuses are awarded post-match so as to not slow the pace of the game.

But why stop here? With such a massive potential audience the marketing tie-in possibilities make the mind boggle. One of the biggest soaps in the UK is already sponsored by a bingo company and, with a multi-billion dollar industry at its door, surely more soaps will follow suit. But to what degree? Close your eyes and you can easily picture a Truman Show style marketing bonanza.

For instance, imagine Thanksgiving at the Forrester family home. All differences are put aside, and Steffy suggests a game of bingo. They have barely started when the doorbell rings - it is some executives from a popular bingo provider. Their car has broken down and they need to use a phone, but darned if this isn't fate! They are looking for real people for their next bingo advertising campaign and here they are, with real people playing bingo. It could be the basis for a storyline but - and here is the ingenious part - the advertisements featuring those characters could appear on real TV! Thus the sponsorship tie-in is complete.

Of course, this is (as yet!) sheer fantasy. The popularity of both soap operas and bingo amongst ladies is undoubted, so it seems only natural that the love of celebrity, gossip, soaps and bingo should become one big, happy marriage. The horizontal integration that is a hallmark of Hollywood could be the same for soaps, meaning that, like the famous major toy franchise, all the fun could be under one roof. In such a case, we would be even fewer clicks away from our favorite things. And who doesn't want that?

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:11 )  


Linda Marshall-Smith (QueenRuler, www.Soapdom.com)
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