Variety reports that Ford Motors, a sponsor of American Idol since the show debuted in 2002, “quietly pared its support of the program in the recently completed 2012-2013 season.” This, according to sources familiar with the program. It does not appear Ford will be increasing levels for 2014 either.
“We made a few tweaks” in 2013, said Marisa Bailey, a Ford communications manager, who declined to comment on the advertiser’s “Idol” plans for next year.
“We are still a title sponsor,” she added. “We could not be happier with our partnership with Fox.” A Fox spokeswoman said executives were not available for comment.
Here are a few stats:
Marketers spent more than $836.4 million on “American Idol” in 2012, according to data from Kantar Media, an increase from the $731.8 million committed to the program in 2011, but less than the $849.6 million the show attracted in 2009.
Ford’s support of Idol initially came with a guarantee of exclusivity, i.e no rival car ads were allowed to appear during the show. But that all changed in Season 12, when ads from rival car companies began to appear. Reportedly, FOX is making a pitch to rival car marketers for Season 13. Hyundai Motor America advertised during the 2013 season.
The Ford results night videos, featuring the finalists roaming here and there around Los Angeles, had lower production values, than the full-blown music videos the company filmed in previous seasons with the contestants, and were obviously part of the cutbacks.
It will be interesting to see how other longtime sponsors like Coca-cola and AT&T respond to Idol’s diminishing ratings. Could the show lose a big sponsor? Although the Idol’s ratings dropped 20% between 2012 and 2013, and The Voice averaged higher in the demo, the aging show still landed in the Top 10 for the season. Somehow, I don’t think finding and keeping sponsors will be a problem.