Kia’s Soul Finds ‘New Way to Roll’

NEW YORK Kia Motors America is ready for its close-up, prepping an expansive ad campaign for its new crossover vehicle, Soul, that begins Friday.
Tagged “Soul. A new way to roll,” the 60-second spot will play in movie theaters served by National Cinemedia and Screenvision, with the latter buy targeting cinemas located on or near 50 college campuses.
Created by David & Goliath, Los Angeles, the ad depicts a computer-generated Levittown populated by giant hamsters. As the rodents spin in place on their hamster wheels, waiting for the traffic light to change, the drudgery of their gridlocked exercise is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a red Kia Soul. When the car pulls up to the intersection, the passenger-side window rolls down to reveal a posse of three hipster hamsters who are clearly enjoying their ride.
The theater ad will run through April 1, whereupon the print and television campaign will kick off, said Tim Chaney, director, marketing communications, KMA.           
“We’re doing a buy across the major networks and cable, and it’s a nice balance of prime time and some late night,” Chaney said. “Because we’re going after the younger demo, we’re doing quite a bit of cable.” Kia’s cable buy includes Adult Swim, Discovery Channel, MTV and Comedy Central.
The carmaker has also lined up a major integrated sponsorship, buying time on the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. In addition to 30-second spots, the Soul will also play a part in the night’s festivities, Chaney said.
With details still being ironed out, Kia did not offer particulars about the print campaign. Chaney said print ads would run through the end of 2009, across a range of youth-oriented lifestyle, entertainment and music titles, as well as in a selection of niche publications.

On the digital side, Kia is covering a vast expanse of the online waterfront, buying into search and social media.
While some automakers are taking a more somber approach to marketing their 2009 lines, Kia will present a playful, upbeat note throughout the Soul campaign. “There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world right now and it’s starting to seep into advertising,” Chaney said. “We just didn’t want to get caught up in that. We think the people who are going to be drawn to Soul are more likely to respond to a lighthearted message.”

In addition to showcasing the Soul’s fuel efficiency (31 MPG) and low price (MSRP starting under $14,000), the theater spot also emphasizes the car’s sound system, which features pulsating lights that twitter and flash to the beat.
“We don’t want to do a traditional car ad, particularly because of how marketing savvy this target audience is,” Chaney said. “We don’t think we’d get anywhere with them if we were to just hit them with a lot of car specs.”

While Kia did not disclose the media budget for Soul, Chaney characterized the overall buy as “pretty significant … right up there with the most we’ve ever spent on a launch.” One major difference between the Soul offensive and those that came before it is that broadcast will play a much smaller role this time around. 

Kia spent $302 million on measured media last year, up 36 percent from $222 million in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (Related: “D&G Opens in Europe for Kia.”)

“A new way to roll” heralds the first of a number of launches Kia has planned between now and 2011. “The new face of Kia is all about style and personalization,” Chaney said. “The Soul launch symbolizes the first wave of design-oriented products we have in store in the next few years.”