Can Hollywood Valets, Who Know Luxury Cars Inside and Out, Identify a Kia Cadenza?

David & Goliath puts the blindfolds on

Hey, dude, park my car. And get ready for your close-up!

A bunch of Los Angeles parking valets take star turns in “The Luxury Experts,” a short film for Kia by David & Goliath.

Now, valets in La La Land park fancy cars all the time. Will they find the 2017 Kia Cadenza sedan just as impressive as the pricier models?

The Korean automaker selected five valets who proved they could actually identify various luxury vehicles while blindfolded, then put them in a Cadenza—stripped of its logos and other identifying elements—and asked them to I.D. the car.

With their eyes covered, armed only with the knowledge that they’re behind the wheel of a luxe model, the valets run their hands along the dashboard and upholstery, making guesses at the nameplate.

“BMW?” “Lexus?” “Audi?”

Later, blindfolds removed, they take the Cadenza for a spin, and the guessing game continues. After putting them through all that, we sure hope Kia was a generous tipper!

Watch the four-minute clip to see the valets drive into the limelight:

Well, those certainly were natural performances—not so surprising, given that the valets were playing themselves. (We wonder how they’d fare as hamsters.)

“Valets are well-trodden as far as advertising goes, especially in the luxury space, but we found a nice little insight,” D&G creative director Basil Cowieson tells Adweek. “They probably drive more luxury cars than Kanye. The thought felt original, and we loved that there was a nice parallel. Valets are not typically considered luxury experts, and Kia is not typically considered a luxury brand. Yet, both have experience with luxury.”

The biggest challenge for the team “was keeping the whole thing under wraps,” says Cowieson. “Our director came up with the idea of creating a mystery event called Project Phoenix. So, as far as valets were concerned, we were making a documentary about luxury. To achieve this, we staged an ‘event’ in downtown Los Angeles, and had them come to work and be interviewed on camera.” (Some light rain fell during the big reveal, but the team believes that just enhances the pseudo-documentary ambiance.)

To cast the commercial, “we hit up specific hotels, and also sent a call around town to see who was interested,” says James Cohen, also a CD at D&G. “We just wanted an authentic mix of actual luxury valets who really like their job. They all valet at different hotels.”

Aman works at The Standard in downtown L.A., while Kevin valets at that same chain’s digs in West Hollywood. Bjarny serves as a supervisor at the Viceroy, while Tony toils at the Four Seasons.

Aaron—by our estimation, the breakout star of the campaign—works for a service that parks cars at exclusive parties and celebrity events. He’s the one who at one point quips, “Can I park it?”—pricelessly treading the line between worldly nonchalance and smoldering desire.

“He’s a total character,” Cowieson recalls. “We loved when he said, ‘Can I park it?’ rather than the usual ‘Can I drive it?’ He was very much in his element. [That was] so valet-centric.”

The full-length spot and a two-minute edit will live mainly on Facebook, YouTube and other digital/social channels, along with shorter valet videos about “Autonomous Emergency Braking” and “Class-Leading Interior Space.” You can check them out below.

Client: Kia
Agency: David&Goliath, LA
Founder & Chairman: David Angelo
Chief Creative Officer: Bobby Pearce
Chief Creative Officer: Colin Jeffery
Executive Creative Director: Gustavo Sarkis
Creative Director: James Cohen
Creative Director: Basil Cowieson
Associate Creative Director: Courtney Pulver
Associate Creative Director: Robert Casillas
Jr. Copywriter: Christopher Santaiti
Jr. Art Director: Tracey Chan
Sr. Interactive Art Director: Steven Lau

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