When you think of cool cars, or just plain cool brands, it’s rare that a Kia pops to mind, as they have been a producer of largely staid automobiles for a couple of decades now and almost all of them have been less weakly marketed versions of Hyundai models. Yes, they are indeed safe cars, as I read the other day to my surprise, not to mention well backed with warranties. But Kia has learned it’s hard to differentiate yourself in the market, image does count for a lot.
Well, if you think Kia isn’t making great products (not true at all), the standout Soul notwithstanding, maybe you should watch their ads and see how they are remaking themselves. Between the 2011 Sportage and the soon to be introduced Optima, which is a Peter Schreyer homerun in terms of looks, the product is there.
And now it seems the car ads are there too. It’s clear that this is a brand that has to work on its image in many ways, but they are using some great ads to do it. Kia is sticking its head out by pitching you unexpected ads, mini-movies that make you look twice and get you to rethink what a Kia is.
Here are my top three Kia ads that I think you will enjoy. One for the Soul, their big image maker, one great Australian one for the new Sportage, a key market they have to break into, and a slightly older one for the new Sorrento, another important market for Kia to gain a foothold. Judging by these ads, they will. These ads all have several things in common: excellent music, always key to making a commercial, really compelling imagery, superb timing and editing, and pretty offbeat story lines and concepts that reinforce the idea that Kia is different.
Kia Sportage with Grand Master Melle Mel
This ad had me smiling from start to end, and especially at the end. The super-mega white, conservative suburb our intrepid suburban new father is cruising through, with the radio cranked up to 11, is just so the antithesis of what the dude behind the wheel is all about. He stands out, he plays his way, rocks out to his tunes--until he gets home and his wife quietly gives him the gears for forgetting the nappies. The fact that they got Grand Master Melle Mel to be part of the commercial is extra sweet as I am sure he needed the money. The music is from my rebellious youth, so I could identify. And the car doesn’t look none too bad either. Great mix of imagery, music and attitude.
Kia Soul, New Way to Roll
When this ad came out a while ago, I couldn’t get my head around it. Took me a while. And then it clicked. (I am indeed not well in the head due to much misspending of my youth.) Rapping hamsters, rolling not on an interminable wheel in a cage like I do at work, rather they are rolling in a sweet and standout ride,the Kia Soul. No cages for you! They show the car and its myriad features very well, tie it all to the music of the Black Sheep, highly addictive music at that, and best of all, you say to yourself “Hamsters? Hamsterdam? What??” and then you say “Cool, what a way to roll.”
Kia Sorrento, A Departure from the Expected
This ad may have been the best of the lot for me. If you want to talk about juxtaposition to drive home the uniqueness of the product and brand, this one does it. Sure, the product is a bit mundane in a niche that demands it to some degree, but the ad is awesome. Undoubtedly inspired by someone who watched a lot of Japanese anime and cartoons--where else would you get characters looking like this--you are drawn in again by the superb music, the clear and and very color-rich imagery. The great editing that keeps your eyes glued to the ad, and just as you’re wondering what it’s all about, they zap you back to reality, where the owners of this car live. And then you get the tag line, “a departure from the unexpected.” Nice. Indeed this ad stands out in my mind as one of the best from Kia.