Fox Locks Up American Idol Sponsors

Ford Motor, Coca-Cola, AT&T Back in the Fold for Reality Powerhouse

With the writers’ strike still going on full force, Fox is betting big on American Idol to deliver when it returns to the airwaves Jan. 15.

American Idol

In preparation for the return, the network locked up a number returning sponsors for the show, bringing in major ad dollars while many of the other networks are trying to get some footing in the now-tumultuous and strike-affected ad market.

Ford Motor will return as a major sponsor of the show, and it will have a major presence throughout the season. Finalists will shoot music videos featuring Ford vehicles, and the winner and runner-up will both receive Ford Escape Hybrids. The company also plans to launch a contest offering one viewer a “once-in-a-lifetime American Idol experience.” Ford has been a sponsor of the show since its launch in 2002.

Coca-Cola will again return as a sponsor and will repeat its popular “design your own judges Coca-Cola cup” contest, giving viewers a chance to design a cup that may be featured on the show, sitting in front of the judges. New for this year, viewers can share their cup designs on Facebook or MySpace. If Coke uses a viewer’s cup, then that viewer will win a trip to a taping of American Idol.

AT&T will be back as the wireless sponsor of the show, allowing viewers to text-message their votes and participate in exclusive hosted chats, as well as play American Idol trivia games. AT&T will also unveil exclusive American Idol ring tones from the performances as the show goes on.

American Idol returns to Fox Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m.