Kia Selects al Punto for Hispanic Account

LOS ANGELES After adding automotive experience to its executive ranks in order to pitch cars, independent al Punto has landed its first auto account, the Hispanic creative assignment of Kia Motors America, the client confirmed.

Media duties, handled by World Marketing Group and Carat USA, were not in play.

The client spends an estimated $15 million annually on Hispanic advertising.

“We made a deliberate effort to secure a car account two years ago,” said Eduardo Bottger, president and creative director of al Punto in Tustin, Calif. “Fortunately for us, we were also a finalist in Mitsubishi’s [Hispanic] review.”

Bottger said the agency withdrew from Mitsubishi because “the fit between al Punto and Kia was determinant: We’re also a little irreverent, growing, aggressive, and think differently.”

In addition to Bottger, who has experience on both Honda and Nissan brands, partner and general manager Peggy Goff had worked for the Southern California Chevrolet Dealers and consulted for Mazda; Carlos Arambula, director of client services, worked on Toyota; Karin McGinley, promotions director, had GMC on her resume, and Miguel Ormeno, ACD, worked on Daewoo.

The Irvine, Calif.-based automaker reviewed its Hispanic account as recently as 2003, when WPP Group’s Mendoza, Dillon & Asociado won the day. But the Irvine agency resigned the business last summer when it moved into the neighboring offices of WPP’s Young & Rubicam Brands, Irvine, putting it in close proximity to Land Rover and Jaguar.

Kia then revisited al Punto, said Tim Chaney, Kia brand manager, and tested them on project work last fall. “They impressed us with their strategic work and the creative on the projects they did for us,” Chaney said. “And they’re a passionate group.”

Chaney said Hispanic market growth is shattering myths. “Their relative affluence has risen dramatically in the last few years, with auto registrations growing 37 percent from 1999-2003, five times the non-Hispanic rate. There’s a real spike in their purchasing power,” he said.

Chaney said that means the Hispanic consumer aspires to more vehicles than just Kia’s entry-level Rio. “The Spectra 4 and 5 will appeal to young, Hispanic males,” Chaney said, “and the Hispanic market is looking for small and midsize SUVs, such as the Sedona and its replacement in our lineup.”

Tom Smith, client director of marketing communications, added that the core message of value, quality and safety would remain the same for the Hispanic market but that, particularly for new model launches, al Punto would be asked to produce unique creative for the Hispanic consumer. Smith said Kia has increased its commitment to Hispanic television, participating in the Hispanic upfront and buying both network and cable.