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Kia Decides That It No Longer Wants Its TV Commercials To Be Entertaining

from the um...-why? dept

For a while now, we’ve been pointing out how, for advertising to be effective, it also needs to be good content that people don’t just “not mind” seeing, but which they’re willing to actively seek out. It appears that automaker Kia has decided to go with the exact opposite strategy. Reader Brooks writes in to point us to the news that Kia’s new marketing director in the US doesn’t want people entertained:

“We don’t want to spend a good chunk of our time in a 30-second spot trying to entertain people.”

That’s part of his plan to move away from a series of rather entertaining commercials that have provided plenty of free advertising for the firm, as people passed them around virally. Apparently, Kia would prefer that no one help them advertise and, indeed, that no one actually watches their ads. Time to think again, Kia. If you want advertising to be effective, it does need to entertain people.

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Companies: kia

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Comments on “Kia Decides That It No Longer Wants Its TV Commercials To Be Entertaining”

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nonuser says:


Some of the most entertaining television ads I’ve ever seen were released by Isuzu, including the “Joe Isuzu” ads with subtitles explaining Joe’s lies, and the Amigo ads sung by flower-power hippies shot in black and white (so good that I’m still not sure it wasn’t dubbed footage from the ’60s).

Those ads didn’t do anything for Isuzu’s business.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Isuzu

“Those ads didn’t do anything for Isuzu’s business.”

How do you conclude that? Just because you didn’t buy from them? TV advertising has always been a spray-and-pray process, intended to get your product into the minds of your audience. Most people won’t buy a new car just because they see an add, but if they’re looking for a new car already, or if they go out to get a new car after being exposed to your product, they’re more likely to buy from you (than if they hadn’t heard of you). These days people can (and do) skip annoying, invasive ads; we’re no longer a captive audience. The same idea applies, though, the trick is just making your ads something people WANT to be exposed to.

Bob says:

Re: Kia's Suck Anyway

I think this comment illustrates the Marketing Director’s point. Their current campaign did nothing to change the attitude of anyone that thinks Kias are just cheap cars. They are cheap but they are also becoming a good value as well.

Check out JD Powers Owner survey. KIA Spectra is dead even with Toyota Corolla and still cheaper with a better warranty.

I think the point the Marketing director needs to make is they are no longer going to make ineffective funny ads. They need to shake the perception as the car of last resort.

When I bought my wife a Kia I did it almost on accident. We had made up our minds and on the way to the dealership we drove by the crappy looking KIA lot. I had always been curious about their prices and warranty so we decided to test drive. It turns out they are good cars that are well built. I didn’t even go look at the other car.

They need advertising that will change peoples ideas enough to get them over the hump of curiosity. At this location specifically they need to spruce up one of the 4 p’s – Place.the KIA New Car Lot looks like the oldest junk used car lot in the city. I don’t know if that is standard from city-to-city but it would be a turn-off for some. I’m sure that is how they keep prices down somewhat.

In summary: Don’t necessarily make ads more serious just make sure brand identity is part of your message and in this case make sure the message is Value – not Price.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Kia's Suck Anyway

All modern cars built to crumple. This absorbs energy in a crash that your body would have to absorb instead. I would rather have my car trashed and my body OK, than have my car OK and my body trashed. It is substantially easier and cheaper to replace the car than it is to replace my body.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Kia's Suck Anyway

As the other AC said, you don’t understand the physics. Solid as a rock = dead drivers. Before engineers figured out crumple zones, race cars were built solid as a rock. They crashed into the wall and barely got dented. Well, the energy of the car has to go somewhere, and a bunch of it went into the driver, who is not solid as a rock. Now, F1 cars crumple and fall apart when they crash (serious high speed crash anyway), with pieces flying off every which way and the end result barely recognizable as a car. And the driver usually doesn’t suffer serious injuries, after 150+mph crashes. An airbag is nothing more than a temporary, small, crumple zone. You want great big crumple zones absorbing lots of energy before it even gets to the passenger compartment, rather than leaving all the energy for your face and the airbag to divide up.

A 3000 pound car going 20mph has a lot of energy. The Mythbusters had a cable with something like 10-15,000 pound breaking point, attached it to a car and drove it off. I think it was going something like 25mph when it just snapped the cable like it was dental floss and kept going. Also, your bumpers are called 5mph bumpers, because any impact faster than that is expected to cause structural damage, even if it hits on the bumper. IMO anecdotal evidence of people surviving horrific crashes, combined with the excellent safety engineering of modern cars makes us forget or deny that there’s enough energy in a 20mph crash to kill.

syN-acK says:

Not a bad idea

Seems to me by announcing boring ads, Kia got a lot of FREE advertising and a lot of hits on their ad. Methinks it was a well played strategy. Given the market they are after for the SUV, a three-stooges slapstick ad wouldn’t be appropriate, but a very tounge-in-cheek, make fun of highbrow SUV’s, and announce we’re being serious would.

Jezsik says:

Why advertise at all?

C’mon, Kia, it’s just a car! Do you really think you’re selling something special? Are you going to tell us something we don’t care about like how its somethingorother is best in its class? That’s about as effective as a five-second spot that says “Hey, we’re Kia! We make cars! If you need a car, come see us!”

SomeGuy says:

Someone above made a good point: your ads can’t just be funny, they need to have substance, too. I haven’t seen the Kia ads, but my favorite ads are the “I’m a Mac” commercials. They’re funny, but they’re also really informative. More to the point, they present the audience with a common Windows problem and then tell us how that’s not an issue with Macs. Being not-annoying helps an ad, but you still need to be informative to get mileage out of the campaign. (HeadOn being the exception to all of this: completely uninformative and the most annoying thing I’ve experienced, and yet apparently very successful. I’ll never buy it, but lots of others seem to.)

SteveD says:

on the other hand...

If the guy has run these entertaining ads in the past he’d have plenty of data on how well they’ve worked. If he’s then decided that these sorts of ads weren’t getting the right information across to the right customers, or projecting the right company image perhaps he’s right to try something else.

Marc says:

legitimate argument...

I think the marketing guy as a point if he doesn’t carry it to the extreme. An ad can be funny but it should have a point, a point that would lead a consumer to buy the product. I’ve seen lots of commercials from which you got a laugh but no lasting memory of what the product was or why you’d want to buy it. I think that’s what he getting at. The point is not to entertain, the point is to sell. Entertaining, of course, can be used to sell. But not all entertaining ads sell.

Accountant says:

KIA's Better than GM/Ford/Chrysler crap...

I am driving a KIA my daughter could not take overseas with her. I love it. 30 mpg, good look and feel, solid road car and 100,000 mile warranty. Oh, and the secret to not needing body work is to not hit anyone. KIA sells nice cars at a good price, which is more than I can say for the US automakers. Oh, and it is twice the car my old Corolla was.

As for commercial: they still have TV? You watch it? Talk about a luddite.

Rekrul says:

That’s part of his plan to move away from a series of rather entertaining commercials that have provided plenty of free advertising for the firm, as people passed them around virally.

You mean as people infringed their copyright?????????

They can’t have that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven’t seen the Kia ads, but my favorite ads are the “I’m a Mac” commercials. They’re funny, but they’re also really informative. More to the point, they present the audience with a common Windows problem and then tell us how that’s not an issue with Macs.


luv2dryve says:

Kia Decides That It No Longer Wants Its TV Commercials To Be Entertaining

That’s why I drive a VW –
Not only did they “try harder by putting out a great line of cars this year, they have a sense of humor – the ads are quirky. Take for instance, the recent campaign of electric guitar w/ every car – Can’t figure the connection but you can say the same about the drivers – except for one thing:
FAST, FASTER… & interesting.
You can drive those KIAs right to the junk yard the day you buy them – that is, if the one you’re driving makes it even that far.

Anonymous Coward says:

So how many people do any of you know who downloaded, watched, or forwarded these commercials? I don’t know what you are talking about and I watch tons of that crap(that is what most of it is, but still entertaining.) Mike you attacked a man who has far more access to the value of those commercials to his company than you ever will….I can usually at least respect your opinion, but not this time.

BizModl (profile) says:

Re-think the whole concept of advertising

I disagree that advertising is content that needs to be entertaining. The whole notion needs to be re-conceived. The in-your-face notion of advertising is based on the assumption that I’m not paying attention because I’m distracted. In fact, I’m not paying attention because the in-your-face advertising drives me away.

Example: one of my favorite web sites has now decided that I need to be forced to sit through an ad for classmates.com for some unspecified period of time before I get to read the article I want. This serves absolutely no (positive) purpose either to me, the site, or to the advertiser. I already know all I need to know about classmates.com. Forcing me to see an ad will not increase my knowledge of classmates.com, but it will make me view it in an (even more) unfavorable light than I do now, thus strengthening my resolve to never do business with them. The anger also spills over onto the web site that hosts the annoying ad, so all three parties come away worse than they were before.

The TV and radio ads for ********* *****, a local car dealer with famously annoying ads, are dealt with the same way: I strengthen my resolve to never do business with the advertiser, and I change the channel, to punish the broadcaster who distributes them.

Both of these advertisers seem to think that they need to get my attention, but they’re wrong. They have my attention, at the start, but they instantly drive me from paying attention to long lasting, festering hatred, with a desire to retaliate by taking by eyeballs and ears somewhere else, preferably someplace where I will never see them again. It wouldn’t help if their ads were more entertaining, because no matter how entertaining the ads were at first glance, they would very quickly grow old.

It’s not that I hate advertising. My favorite part of the Sunday paper is the ad inserts. I pull out the ones I’m interested in, and pore over them to see what’s on sale, if there are any products I hadn’t heard of before, what does a certain store carry. I love those. I hate the flap they put over the comics section, the one I have to carefully tear off and discard (and vow not to do business with that advertiser) before I can read the funnies.

Sponsoring valuable content in an unobtrusive way is is the best that anyone has yet come up with. At least I hear that they exist, if only for a few seconds, and it doesn’t incite me to retaliate against them and the communications channel. With the internet I can go find out all the details I want, once I’m motivated to look. Assuming that they are smart enough to have a usable and informative web site.

Product placement has the same negative effects. It’s distracting, and makes me more suspicious of the content producer. It creates a negative aura around everything, forcing me to raise the sensitivity knob on my bullshit detector, which detracts from the whole experience.

Far better, however, if the advertisers can figure out how to give me something I want that will see why their product is good. I’ll pay attention to their ad as they’re doing something useful for me.

How’s this for an ad: a slide show of the products, maybe with a summary of characteristics, played silently. That would really catch some attention. At least I woundn’t have to mute it.

Gay Siegman says:

Kia commercials

I absolutely LOVE your Kia commercials with the hamsters and the sock monkey……..I know it sounds crazy but if I were in the market for a new car, I would DEFINITLY test drive a Kia ….because if the company has such good commercials, it may be that the company has good products.

Hopefully, your commercial writers will still be able to capture an audience that in this day and age, have a sense of humor.


Gay Siegman

clay says:

complanints abouty KIA tv ads

TV spots that promote sewn sock-puppets? “How do you like me now”? (Not at all, thank you).

These puppets bowl? .. and jump up and down, and ride “horsies” in cowboy bars?… what the crap does any of this have to do with a quality automobile?.. This spot shows very little of the van.. and 90% of this superfluous shit, that has zero to do with me wanting or trying the brand. I seriously dislike this approach to marketing. I have money to specnd on a car, – but won’t spend it on autos that have high-school drop-outs, making the tv appeals for my money.

C.Hughes/Stone Mtn. GA/404.285.3928
Give a call, if you want more info.

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