They sing like drunks in a midnight choir, dance like goats on mescalin and are, frankly, pretty charmless. But The X Factor's Jedward are breaking new ground in the fine and long established art of obtaining money for old rope. The gruesome twosome are the marketing phenomenon of the age, with everyone from bookies to rubbish-collection companies to political parties capitalising on John and Edward's new-found notoriety. The total take for the next 12 months alone is already estimated to reach somewhere near £5m: proof, if any more were needed, that the world has gone mad.
"As long as people are interested in them, then they will sell. Everyone is leeching off their brand," said the PR mogul Mark Borkowski.
It is estimated that bookmakers across the country took just under £2m in bets on The X Factor last weekend, £500,000 more than the week before – with the jump entirely due to the debate over whether or not the controversial duo would stay in the show. Rupert Adams of William Hill said: "All the attention surrounding Jedward has massively increased the amount of bets we are taking."
Tourism in the pair's home town of Lucan, and nearby Dublin, has also received a boost from their fame, with publicans and hoteliers reporting a surge in bookings from tourists keen to support the teenagers. Meanwhile, Irish barbers are reporting a boom in customers asking to have their hair done in the teenager's distinctive sky-high styles in time for the weekly Saturday shows.
With the cost of advertising in the breaks during The X Factor thought to have reached as much as £1,000 a second, companies are dreaming up inventive ways to jump on the bandwagon while dodging the fare. A viral advert made by the rubbish-clearance company Any Junk? which shows John and Edward being cleared away as rubbish has become a YouTube hit. A mocked-up Labour Party poster showing David Cameron and George Osborne styled to look like Jedward, and bearing the slogan: "You won't be laughing if they win", increased traffic to the party website by 220 per cent.
While it is uncertain how long the twins' fame will last, celebrity publicist Max Clifford believes that the Jedward industry could roll on for at least 18 months. "They could make £2m a year, which would be easy to do, and an agent will take 20 per cent." said Mr Clifford. "Their fan base is five- to 12-year-olds, so they should be kids' TV presenters, like a junior Ant and Dec. They can bring records out on the back of that. They should also look at kids toys; there is a huge market."