Ford Marks 10-Season Sponsorship of American Idol; New Twist in Season Finale
- Ford marks its 10th season as a sponsor of the Emmy Award-winning FOX television show American Idol
- Ford sponsorship of American Idol over the years has translated into increased consumer awareness and affinity for the Ford brand
- More than 1 million consumers have opted in for more information about Ford vehicles as a direct result of Ford involvement with American Idol
- Final two Idols deliver a Ford Focus to their favorite teacher during the American Idol finale; Ford donates $30,000 through Drive One 4 UR school program
DEARBORN, Mich., May 25, 2011 – As fans across the country wait to find out whether Scotty McCreery or Lauren Alaina will be the next American Idol, Ford is marking its 10th season as a sponsor of the hit FOX television show that has enabled the Blue Oval to engage millions of consumers with its products and technologies.
“American Idol’s high ratings make it a mini-Super Bowl every week,” said Crystal Worthem, Ford Brand Content and Alliances manager. “The show attracts a huge audience that is able to connect with our vehicles in a fresh and meaningful way because of the custom content we have been able to create.”
The relationship began like most sponsorships – with a pitch. Worthem says the Ford Marketing team had a “gut instinct” about American Idol when they first met with the show’s producers before it ever launched.
“Reality shows are so common now that it is hard to comprehend how unique the property was at the time. Nothing like it existed,” she explained. “However, the names behind the show had a lot of strength, and the concept itself sounded riveting and new. That’s why Ford was willing to take a risk.”
It was a risk that paid off, according to Worthem.
“One of the most interesting things about American Idol is that even after all these years, the show is still as strong as it was when it debuted,” she said. “It is one of the biggest platforms on television, and it’s very difficult to find something that can compete with it in the entertainment space.”
Beyond product placement
For Ford, sponsorship of American Idol has translated into increased vehicle sales, enhanced ad performance, and greater consumer awareness and affinity for the brand.
“American Idol enables us to showcase the contemporary nature of new Ford products and technologies, and it is the perfect avenue to launch new products with custom content that can live in all media channels – branded content, product placement and social content as well as digital, mobile, broadcast and print advertising,” said Worthem, noting that Ford involvement with American Idol over the past 10 seasons alone has resulted in more than 1 million consumers opting in for more information about Ford vehicles.
“The reason it works so well,” explained Worthem, “is that we do it in a way that is really relevant to the context of the show.”
Ford achieves that relevance through the creation of original branded content like the Ford Music Videos – which air weekly during the American Idol season and are posted on www.americanidol.com.
“The Ford Music Videos place the Idols and the products together, engaging viewers to spend more time with the brand,” Worthem continued. “It takes the viewers who are really connected to the Idols, and enables them to see how they interact with Ford products and technology.”
Every season, Ford strives to take its relationship with American Idol to the next level.
For example, in season three, Ford created the Ford Music Video Contest & Sweepstakes, which awarded winners a walk-on role in the final Ford Music Video and a new Ford Focus ST. In season six, Ford participated in the “Idol Gives Back” charity initiative, creating a special music video with downloads to benefit the cause. And just last year in season nine, Ford designers worked with the top 12 contestants to create personalized Idol-inspired Fiestas.
"Ford has been a great partner for us on the show, and worked with us to keep their integration fresh and relevant," said Keith Hindle, CEO Americas for FremantleMedia Enterprises. "The concept of having the first music videos of the contestants car themed is a great asset for Ford, and has led to some beautiful and really fun TV moments".
And as technology has evolved over the years, Ford has broadened the scope of its marketing efforts.
“Our involvement with American Idol has extended beyond the weekly music videos to a digital platform using social media and gaming to connect viewers with our vehicles,” said Worthem.
Ford and American Idol: Season 10
This season, Ford’s relationship with American Idol is bigger and better than ever before.
Ford expanded the impact of the Ford Music Videos by creating a virtual scavenger hunt within the videos on www.americanidol.com that drives consumers to log on and re-engage with the videos to find hidden icons. The grand prize was two tickets to the American Idol finale and a new 2012 Ford Focus.
Ford also used the American Idol forum this season to showcase its Drive One 4 UR School test-drive program, an initiative that brings together local dealerships and neighborhood high schools to raise money. The program will be highlighted in a video that will air during the finale.
“When the final three Idols went on their hometown visits, we took our Drive One 4UR School program to their local high schools and raised $10,000 for each school,” said Worthem. “The Idols also surprised their favorite teacher from high school with a trip to the American Idol finale, courtesy of Ford Motor Company.”
Since its creation, Ford has donated more than $5.5 million to local schools through the Drive One 4 UR Schools program.
“As a gift for their accomplishment, we award Ford vehicles to the final two Idols,” said Worthem. The added twist this year is that the Idols are going to surprise their favorite teachers with their own Ford Focus.”
Previous American Idol winners who were awarded Ford vehicles continue to support the Ford brand. Season seven winner David Cook, who received a Ford Escape Hybrid, later purchased a Ford Flex. And Kris Allen, who won season eight, received a Ford Fusion Hybrid and later purchased a Ford Escape Hybrid for his wife, prompting Ford to include him as a participant in the 2010 Drive One campaign featuring real Ford owners.
# # #
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
About American Idol
The Emmy Award-winning American Idol attracts millions of viewers each week. It is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; and Nigel Lythgoe, President, Big Red 2 Entertainment. American Idol has been No. 1 among Adults 18-49 for the past seven consecutive seasons and currently ranks as the No. 1 television show of the 2010-11 season.