Ford Mulls Reality TV Show for Wannabe Auto Designers

02 May 2006

Buoyed by its highly successful sponsorship of American Idol, Ford Motor Company is considering the ultimate extension - producing its own reality TV show.

Ford marketers are desperate to reconnect with younger Americans who have migrated to marques like Honda and Toyota - brands they perceive as more attuned to their lifestyles and aspirations.

High on the list of Ford's tentative program concepts is a scenario in which aspiring young car designers would compete against one another to design the next hot Ford model. It would follow a tried, tested (and tired?) format.

Each week a panel of judges would consider contestants' designs, praise the most creative and pan the least inspired, and fire the losers. The winner would see his or her design produced as a concept version and displayed at one of the big auto shows.

The vehicle design outline is but one of a number of marketing concepts, packaged under the heading Bold Moves, to be announced by Ford this week.

Other elements in Ford's new strategy are a documentary-style internet program starring Mark Fields, head of North and South American operations, and a new series of national television commercials for Ford vehicles featuring a previously unreleased Kelly Clarkson song.

The strategy overall could cost Ford more than $100 million (€79.21m; £54.88m) over a period of years, while the media campaigns will likely carry a price tag of tens of millions.

Says Ford general marketing manager John V Felice: "Others have been telling the Ford story, quite frankly. What we plan to do is begin to control our own destiny and tell our story in our own words."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff