Focusing Again on Charity, Kia Is in the Big Game for the 11th Year Running

The 60-second spot will highlight youth homelessness

Backside of a young boy wearing a jean jacket and a cowboy hat
Like last year, Kia's 2020 Super Bowl ad will feature a cause instead of a celebrity. Kia
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

After running Super Bowl ads with big name celebrities for the better part of a decade—the auto manufacturer has previously hired Christopher Walken, Melissa McCarthy and Pierce Brosnan, to name a few—Kia made an unexpected pivot last year.

Rather than paying for star power, it used that money to fund a new initiative called The Great Unknowns Scholarship, promising to “help young people in need get a foothold in higher education.” The ad was created by its agency of record, David&Goliath, which will also be handling its 2020 spot.

This year, Kia is making another pivot, using the Big Game platform to support homeless youth. According to the Covenant House, one of the organizations that Kia is partnering with for the initiative, “more than 4.2 million young people are experiencing homelessness in the U.S.”

For each yard that’s gained during the game, the car company will donate $1,000 to three charity partners: Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp for Kids.

In an advertising spectacle that features 77 slots going for as much as $5.6 million for just 30 seconds, Kia’s charity spot certainly makes a statement.

Last year, the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots collectively gained 667 yards in a historically low-scoring game, per ESPN. In 2018, the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles had a hefty 1,151 total yards, which, if replicated, would mean that Kia would end up donating just over $1 million.

The Great Unknowns Scholarship, by comparison, provides $5,000 annually renewable scholarships to 16 winners.

Kia’s spot for Super Bowl 2020 will be 60 seconds long and air during the third quarter of the game.

UPDATE: Today, Jan. 23, Kia released a 40-second teaser for the Big Game ad, which features a 10-year-old boy seated at a press table fielding questions from reporters. When they ask him what keeps him going, he responds with an answer that goes deeper than sport—telling the crowd that he runs for his dad, for people living on white rice and ramen noodles and for those doubting that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “I run to show them that there is,” he says.

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@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.