Mar 17, 2010 at 02:18 PM
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Ford's Idol Activation Lets Contestants Design New Cars

While CKX, Inc., rights-owner of the American Idol franchise, yesterday reported weaker on-air, off-air & tour sponsorship revenue around American Idol, longtime sponsors like Ford continue to innovate with their activations around the franchise now in its ninth season. As promotion around tonight's show, Ford is giving the top 12 Idols an opportunity to work with Ford designers to create their own personalized 2011 Ford Fiesta.

Tonight's episode of "American Idol" will feature this new element in a video segment.

"Ford has been a sponsor of 'American Idol' since the show premiered in 2002, and each season we try to take our relationship with the show to the next level in a fun and meaningful way," said Connie Fontaine, manager, Ford Brand Content and Alliances. "This year, the Idols will get a closer experience with our vehicles as they interact with our designers and customize a Fiesta design that reflects their own personality."

Ford spent nearly $78 million on its American Idol sponsorship (including commercials) in 2008 alone, and spent some $328.5 million over seven seasons of Idol through 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

All of the Idols' Fiestas will be on display at From March 17th through May 21st fans can enter the Ford Music Video Challenge weekly for a chance to win one of the vehicles and a trip to the set of a Ford Music Video shoot or the grand prize, which includes a Fiesta with their choice of one of the Top 12 designs and tickets to the finale. The top two Idol finalists also will be awarded their own signature Fiesta during the finale.

"Ford has great young designers who are bringing fresh thinking to our product lineup," said Fontaine. "We hope the design integration with 'American Idol' will shine a light on the remarkable talent that is working tirelessly to deliver great products to market."

Ford began the design process by giving each of the top 12 contestants a palette of nine Fiesta colors to choose from, a personality quiz and matched them up with up-and-coming Ford designers.

Each designer-Idol contestant combo developed a concept for his or her personalized Fiesta.

"We explained to the Idols that the graphics they design will actually be a symbol of them and their life experiences," said Carbis, who most recently served as lead exterior designer for the 2010 Ford Taurus. "They were really excited to work with us."

For obvious reasons, many contestants used music as a common theme among the designs.

"Many of the Idols are obviously very music-oriented, so we talked about taking an instrument they play or the lyrics to their favorite song and somehow incorporating that into the graphics," said Blanski, 26, the youngest member of the Ford design team.

Through Ford's Fiesta Movement social media initiative, the company says it has generated more than 6.2 million YouTube views, more than 750,000 Flickr views and nearly 4 million Twitter impressions resulting in more than 100,000 people that have expressed an interest in the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

Over the seasons, staples of Ford's AI activation have been prominent product integration; contestants appearing in Ford commercials during the results shows, and finalists receiving the latest Ford models as prizes.