Kia Accelerates Its Ad Efforts

Kia Motors Amer ica will unveil a new tagline in an estimated $60 million-plus campaign set to launch next month. The effort will include three TV spots introducing the Sor ento sport util ity vehicle and re de signed Optima sedan.

The campaign, cre ated by Los Ange les shop davidandgoliath, is the first to bear the imprint of Kia’s new vp of marketing, Walter Ander son. The work is designed to boost the Korean name plate’s image from that of a maker of low-priced cars to what Anderson described as a full-line, “value-based” automotive marketer.

“Make every mile count,” is Kia’s first new tagline in two years. The last tag was, “Darn good cars.”

“Most people still really don’t know us, or they have an image of us that is somewhat out-of-date,” said Anderson, who joined Kia in April from Mercedes-Benz USA.

Two launch spots for the Sorento use humor to establish that the SUV will surpass expectations created by its under-$20,000 price point.

In one, the vehicle races across a desert against rival SUVs, including one that is described as “too honkin’ huge” and another that’s “afraid to get dirty.” In the end, the Sorento driver distracts the others by tossing out “wads of cash” left over from his purchase.

The second spot, set in a design lab, has a serious-looking spokes man describing the SUV’s features. He concludes that Kia’s accountant was tied up in a closet so the designers could keep the price low.

An Optima spot has a group of co-workers assuming that a young executive has been given a raise when he starts driving his new Kia to work.

“These ads say Kia has arrived,” said Nigel Williams, agency creative director. “The new tagline is really saying, ‘When you drive a Kia, it’s a positive statement on your life.’ ”

Anderson did not reveal spending, but said this is Kia’s “biggest push” in its eight years of selling cars in the U.S. Kia, which has a U.S. base in Irvine, Calif., spent $60 million on ads in the fourth quarter of last year and $200 million-plus in all of 2001, according to CMR.