LOS ANGELES — Kia has a knack for creating lovable ambassadors.
After leveraging its dancing hamsters for years to burnish its youthful image, it now has another team of adorable pitchmen: two saleskids — a boy and a girl — who make light of dealer stereotypes and put a comical spin on ho-hum sales event ads.
Instead of narrating run-of-the-mill driving footage, Kia's little salespeople, dressed as adults, take jabs at such dealership "hoopla" as balloons, doughnuts and corny jokes while methodically touting the brand's long warranty and safety credentials.
Saad Chehab, who joined Kia Motors America in May 2017 as vice president of marketing communications, said the brand needed the fresh look for its summer sales campaign. Dealers, he said, understand that "doing the same thing over and over is insanity."
"We said we need to go away from that and talk about what's painful for the customer," Chehab said during Automotive News' Marketing 360 seminar last month, adding: "We went and made fun of ourselves."
Even the best brand messages are short-lived these days, thanks to the digital realm's fast-churning content cycle, Chehab says.
So Kia is trying to generate as much noise as it can while it can. The latest campaign found its way to the late-night comedy circuit when the kid salespeople made an appearance in a skit on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in May.
The skit centered on Kimmel's sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez, buying a vehicle from the youngsters while his lawyer watches out for "shenanigans."
The campaign borrows a page from the Chrysler Pacifica digital campaign in 2016 that used a trio of "pint-sized product specialists" to spotlight the minivan's kid-friendly and high-tech features. The lampooning of stereotypical dealer hoopla is Kia's own twist.