Kia Shoots, Scores at ‘Buzzer’

LOS ANGELES Independent davidandgoliath is using a National Basketball Association sponsorship to create a sense of community for Kia Motors America, according to the agency.

“Rather than taking the expected advertising approach of integrating cares into a cliched basketball environment,” said Colin Jeffery, ecd at the El Segundo, Calif., agency, “we decided to show that we are also fans of the game and understand the mind-set of those who live and love basketball.”

A 30-second spot (“Buzzer”) shows people of different ages and socioeconomic circumstances (on constructions sites, in offices, in restaurant kitchens, shopping) toss something toward a receptacle and pretend they’re hitting a game-winning shot. In the last image, a schoolgirl playing hoops in her driveway is interrupted by the horn of a Kia Sorento driven by her father, who gets out of the car and plays basketball with her. The tagline: “Proud sponsor of basketball dreams.”

Jeffery said the “campaign begins what is planned be a long-term association with the game. We look forward to extending the effort into a full-blow campaign next season.”

Jeffery said that a spot that broke last week for Kia Spectra in which drivers play “musical cars” in a parking lot, jockeying for one open space, carries this new community attitude. “If the world is a playground, how do you heighten that?” he said. “It’s in the chemistry between the guys and girls. Plus the spot shows the Spectra performance, a variety of colors, and positions Kia as young at heart and fun to drive.”

Such marketing makes a greater distinction between Kia and Hyundai, the other Korean brand marketed in America, Jeffery said. “Hyundai is positioned as a little more conservative,” he added. “[Vice president of marketing] Ian Beavis is very much behind the idea of getting as much humanity as possible into the advertising to resonate with young drivers. Kia has a diverse range of products, but the marketing should keep a smile on your face.”

Jeffrey maintains that many brands have defined themselves as “fun to drive” (for example, Mitsubishi), “[but] I don’t think a lot of the work out there reflects it, the performance and sheet metal balanced with humanity the way we do. Everyone walked away from it to a certain extent.”

A Sportage SUV spot breaking next month will also build “a community of like-minded drivers, but in a style that is more epic, quiet and cinematic,” he said.

“There’s a lot of real-life observation in the Kia campaign,” said Jeffery. “People should see themselves in the work, and then, on the street, the vehicles should remind them of creative they’ve seen themselves in.”

Irvine, Calif.-based Kia spent $210 million in measured media in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.