By Noel Young, Correspondent

May 23, 2012 | 2 min read

A mickey-taking commercial for a new TV musical competition programme in the US borrows liberally from Apple's famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial - and takes a swipe at Simon Cowell and company.

In the spot, a deadened audience is oppressed by large video screens filled with judges from existing singing contests, reports Ad Age.

You might recognise impersonations of Christina Aguilera from NBC's "The Voice," Simon Cowell from Fox's "The X Factor" and Randy Jackson from Fox's "American Idol."

In 1984, an athlete emerges from the back of the room and hurls a long-handled hammer into the screen. In ABC's 2012, an athlete hurls a microphone and stand into the screen, revealing a vibrant new stage. The suddenly liberated audience leaps to its feet, while viewers are told the show, "Duets" starts tomorrow (Thursday).

"The superstars in the show (including Kelly Clarkson,Lionel Richie ) are not just judging the competition, "we are told, "they ARE the competition." The stars are setting out to find unknowns who can sing a winning duet with them.

The commercial is the brainchild of Maria Provencio, just appointed CMO at ABC Entertainment.

In 31 years at ABC, Provencio, has done it all.She helped devise "Desperate Housewives" dry-cleaning bags reading "Everyone has a little dirty laundry". She promoted the finale of "Lost" without releasing any new footage.

Just as the "1984" Apple spot was meant to turn consumers from better-known products from IBM and HP, the ABC promo hopes to divert people from "American Idol" "X Factor" and "The Voice."

"These promos have to do a lot of heavy lifting for us," said Provencio, who calls the "Duets" effort "an homage" to the fabled Apple ad.

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