American Idol Top 12 Contestants
 American Idol Top 12 Contestants
 American Idol Contestants Design Own Ford Fiestas

Year after year, Fox's American Idol auditions thousands of hopeful singers, whittling down to its "top 12" contestants. At this point in the season, only one contestant per week is voted off the show as Idol reaches its largest viewing audience and sponsors like Ford Motor Company take a more active involvement in the show.

As in years past, the top 12 contestants will each be featured in Ford "music videos" with various Ford models, but this year Ford is stepping up its involvement by tapping the creativity of the singers to each create their own custom designed Ford Fiesta.

Of the many shocks to the system for the 'almost famous' musicians of American Idol, is that they must actively participate in selling cars – more specifically, Fords. And, they seemed happy to get the work. Dean Carbis, one of four young Ford designers working on the project said, "We explained to the Idols that the graphics we design will actually be a symbol of them and their life experiences, and they were really excited to work with us."

Mainly expressed by exterior custom graphics, weekly winners of a consumer online contest will get to choose one of the Idol's "creations." Details about the "Ford Music Video Challenge," a trivia contest based on the weekly Ford videos, along with photos of the cars will be available to view on americanidol.com after the program airs, Wednesday, March 17.

To develop the unique designs, Ford designers asked the twelve contestants questions like, "What are the three things you are most passionate about?" and "What do you want your car to say about you?" Not surprisingly, many of the designs will feature musical instruments or lyrics that reflect the singers' passion for music.  

Though Ford was unable to disclose whether the Idols themselves will receive the Ford Fiesta they helped to create, they said that more announcements will be discovered as the season unfolds. As for color choices, Ford says that the many of the male contestants chose black while the female contestants opted for Bright Magenta and Lime Squeeze.

With many successful Idol seasons behind them, last year's Idol Chris Allen as spokesperson, and a highly successful social media campaign (the Fiesta Movement) still in the works, Ford has great hopes for another promotional home run with this season's show. And, with the final American Idol winner being named on May 26, the summer consumer launch of Fiesta seems to be timed just right.

Priced between $13,000 and $20,000, the Fiesta is aimed at a younger audience and will have many "customizable" features for the more spirited, youthful car owner. The Fiesta, already a popular European model, fits as a new category for Ford priced and sized just under the Ford Focus. Fiesta has already received much praise from the automotive press, many calling it a contender for the subcompact category against popular models like the Honda Fit.

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Joni Gray is a long-standing member of the automotive industry and has worked on both the corporate and publishing sides of the business. Over the past 20 years, she has managed advertising and marketing programs at Mazda, Hyundai and Honda and has been an editor at both Kelley Blue Book and the Los Angeles Times.

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