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Kia Drives Borrego With Fuel Economy Message

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In a fresh campaign for its mid-sized Borrego, Kia is pitching a "new kind of luxury SUV." The vehicle starts at $27,000 and offers fuel economy, features that Kia hopes will be selling points for motorists considering smaller cars due to rising gas prices.

One print ad for the Borrego, which comes with a V8 engine, poses the question: "Is it more insane to charge an extravagant amount for a luxury SUV or to pay it?" The Borrego is the most powerful SUV in terms of engine power for the Irvine, Calif.-based automaker and will compete with the Toyota 4Runner, the Nissan Pathfinder and the Jeep Cherokee.

Print buy includes August issues of business books, where Kia has had a small presence in the past. Out-of-home in major markets and a microsite will launch later this month.

A 60-second in-cinema spot that launched in June positioned the Borrego as a luxury SUV, with narration poking fun at commercials from its rivals. Two new 30-second spots are derived from the in-cinema one. Voiceover says: "Yes, you'd expect a lot from a luxury SUV commercial, but what you wouldn't expect is this," then the camera pans to the Kia logo on the front of the Borrego. Broadcast breaks in August.

The campaign, via David&Goliath, Los Angeles, is aimed at a sizable chunk of consumers who still need the space of an SUV, but won't pay higher prices for both the vehicle and the fuel.

"This is a brand new thing for us," said Tim Chaney, Kia's marketing director. "And despite what is going on in the industry and this segment, we look at this as a prime opportunity to gain market share in a place that we have not played [in] before."

The Borrego seeks buyers in the 35-45 age range, primarily married with children and a household income of $80,000-and-up, the highest skew ever for Kia, Chaney said.

"We are also looking at someone getting out of a [Ford] Expedition," Chaney said. "That's our secondary target, these people who still need some space and flexibility but are downsizing."

SUV sales are now half of what they were when they peaked in 2002 and at their lowest since then. Car buyers are flocking to smaller cars with better gas mileage, a fact that Kia played on in a pair of ads introduced this spring. The ads noted that the Spectra car and Sportage crossover saved on both cost and gas, compared to two competing Toyota models.

Kia's sales were up 2.1% through June, per Autodata, Woodcliff Lake, N.J. The increase is due to car sales, which are up 21%, while truck sales are down 17%.

Kia spent $217 million on advertising last year and $75 million through April (not including online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Chaney said the spending is expected to increase by 30% this year.