Ian Beavis: Kia finally will have a consistent message in its advertising.
The commercials will feature Kia vehicles in public locations, with a spokesman doing a deliberately over-the-top sales pitch. The commercials will have a similar tone and have the same spokesman.
"Finally, Kia will have a consistent tone of voice, although these will not be brand ads," says Ian Beavis, Kia's vice president of marketing. He declined to name the spokesman, saying only that the person is not instantly recognizable.
"We didn't want to get into the celebrity endorsement game," Beavis says.
The Sportage sport wagon, Sedona minivan and Spectra and Amanti sedans will be the focus of the commercials. The underlying theme will be the vehicles' value, explaining why consumers should consider Kia.
"It is extremely expensive to raise customer awareness. It is more effective to raise purchase intentions among those who do know your brand," Beavis says.
The commercials will begin in August. TV will get the bulk of the media buy, split between a heavy cable purchase and some network time. The schedule, put in place before Beavis' arrival at Kia in May, is split among prime time, early prime time, late night and sports.
Kia hopes to sell 300,000 units in 2006. Sales in the first half of 2005 rose 5.3 percent over the same period last year. Kia sold 270,055 units in the United States in 2004.
Kia hopes the advertising also will build showroom traffic to unload some aging products. The Rio subcompact will be redesigned late this year, the Sedona will be redesigned in January, and the next Optima sedan is scheduled to arrive in March.
In contrast, the Sportage, Spectra and Amanti debuted in the past 18 months.
Kia's marketing tactics are quite different from those of sibling Hyundai, which is spending $100 million to raise awareness of its redesigned 2006 Sonata mid-sized sedan.
Historically, Hyundai and Kia have had little cross shopping between the brands. But Beavis admits that trend could change as the two carmakers begin sharing basic platform underpinnings.
To differentiate the brands, Hyundai's products and marketing messages will target the older Toyota customer. Meanwhile, Kia will chase the younger Nissan buyer. But Kia also aims to win customers coming from rival second-tier brands such as Mitsubishi and Mazda.
Said Beavis: "We're going after the weak animal, not the strong one."
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