Kia Aims to Turn Around Optima, Sedona

LOS ANGELES Kia Motors America is altering its marketing plans for the redesigned Optima sedan and Sedona minivan, according to the vice president of marketing.

Ian Beavis said the automaker would use its agency, independent davidandgoliath in Los Angeles, to create three commercials for the Sedona’s add-on features without being product-centric.

Spots breaking at the end of January typify the upcoming campaign scenarios. In one ad, an airbag deploys as a boy is about to collide with gym equipment. A female lugging groceries approaches her house and the door automatically opens (representing keyless entry) in another spot. A third ad shows a man discovering he can adjust a park bench to his liking. In another, a guy relaxing in his yard inserts a CD and speakers appear from nowhere.

“We will be exploring various other media for these two campaigns,” said Beavis. “That will include ride-and-drives, print and a lot of Web search.” He said Kia is also sponsoring the Kid’s Choice Awards for Optima, though the demographic is split between younger drivers and “empty-nesters.”

Both Optima and Sedona need refreshing, Beavis said. Even though the sales for Irvine, Calif.-based Kia rose overall 2 percent to 276,000 units in 2005, the Optima sold 41,000 cars, down 23 percent from 2004, and the Sedona slipped 14 percent to 53,000 over the same period, per Car Concepts in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Beavis would not disclose the budget for the launches. A source estimated each campaign at upwards of $60 million. Kia typically spends about $270 million on advertising annually, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Optima is launching in early April; Sedona arrives in dealer showrooms the first week in February.