Kia has appeared in 10 consecutive Super Bowls, often using celebrities in ads that were meant to be laughed at. But this year, the Korean automaker took a big detour with a 90-second ad that promoted its factory in the southern United States and the workers employed there.
The ad, set in the small town of West Point, Georgia, is narrated by a city cowboy hat boy named Corbin. "There are no stars on the sidewalk for us, there are no statues in our honor, we are just a small city in Georgia in complete mystery," he says in the opening scene. "The closest thing to a world stage is 81 miles away in Atlanta tonight," he adds, referring to the Super Bowl site.
The announcement, from David & Goliath, continues to cover the Kia Telluride, a new SUV that is being made at the West Point plant, which has been in operation since 2009, when the automaker started manufacturing its Kia Sorento there.
The place has a markedly different tone than previous Kia Super Bowl ads that have used celebrities such as Steven Tyler, Melissa McCarthy, Christopher Walken and Pierce Brosnan, leader of Aerosmith. The serious approach is in contrast to the Super Bowl strategy used this year by many other brands, which made heavy use of celebrities with ads that burst out laughing.
Saad Chehab, vice president of marketing communications for Kia Motors America, said Kia wanted to avoid "glossing and holding, fun and noise" to focus on the people of West Point. "Authenticity is what was very, very important to us," he said in an interview last week.
Everyone who appears in the advertisement is from the city, he said. The representatives of Kia began to select the participants of the announcement about six months ago, simply by telling them that the brand was filming a documentary about the role of West Point and Kia in the city. As part of the Super Bowl campaign, Kia produced a long-running video that positions the automaker's plant as a savior, lifting the city from economic depression and despair as a result of factory closures.
Until last week, Kia had not told the people in the announcement that it was for the Super Bowl. "We left it as a surprise," Chehab said, although it is likely that they discovered it because Kia launched an announcement of the announcement on January 20.
By presenting a small town in the south, the announcement seems tailored to the supporters of President Donald Trump, who defends a mindset of first America. But Chehab said the brand has a broader scope: "We want to call on all Americans to be proud of the things that are being done here."
As part of the campaign, Kia is starting a national university scholarship fund aimed at people in need. The program briefly connected at the end of the Super Bowl ad, which lists the website where people can apply, called TheGreatUnkowns.org.