Ford Motor Company, which has been with "American Idol" as automotive sponsor for all nine seasons of the Fox hit, is adding car customization to its involvement with the show during this season. Central to the program, which involves a promotional on www.AmericanIdol.com, are 12 versions of Ford's new Fiesta, which goes on sale this summer, based on designs by the 12 Idol contestants.
Ford says four of its young designers reviewed questionnaires from the "Idol" contestants, traveled to Hollywood to meet with them and helped each contestant develop the Fiesta design. The vehicles -- actually mock-ups of the vehicles -- were shown during an episode of the show last week about the process by which the contestants dreamed up the customized cars with Ford.
As part of the program, Ford is holding a "Ford Music Video Challenge" for 12 consecutive weeks. The 12 winners each get to choose one of the "Idol"-designed cars for themselves, which Ford will then build for them. They also win a trip to the set of a Ford music video shoot for the show, and the show's finale.
"This is really building on what we have done before -- you will still see vehicles each week on Ford music videos, but this is different because we were able to bring in our designers to customize these vehicles," says Connie Fontaine, manager, Ford brand content and alliances. She says that Ford's goal is not to get as much TV screen time as possible, but rather to drive consideration with Web-based elements so that the brand isn't too obtrusive during the actual show.
"A lot of what Ford does around 'Idol' is online," she says. "We thought it was important to seed the idea in that first week of the top 12, then do integrations in music videos and with a very strong online integration as well. We want everything we do on air to feel relevant, credible and organic."