Kia Gets Serious About Luxury With Cadenza

by , Jun 5, 2013, 8:58 AM
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The company has rolled out its most upscale vehicle to date, the 2014 Cadenza, which starts at around $35,000. Yes -- a Kia that starts at the price of an entry-level Bimmer. 

To support the car, Kia’s U.S. operation -- Irvine, Calif.-based Kia Motors America -- has launched its most upscale advertising to date. The creative theme parallels Kia's arc over the years: the girl who was a wallflower in high school who nobody followed thereafter, but who suddenly shows up at the reunion an absolute stunner. 

In the new spot, via AOR Santa Monica, Calif.-based David & Goliath, a Cadenza cruises New York City streets driven by a woman whose attributes are only hinted at, mostly by her misty lips, silken hair, and stilettos. 

She shows up at her high school’s 20-year reunion (which means she’s 38, though she looks not a day over 25) and sashays in as jaws drop like Champagne flutes from a service tray. She, like the car, is “impossible to ignore.” The spot is also set to David Bowie’s “Let's Dance” -- although not so obviously, until you hear lines about “mysterious moonlight.”

Tim Chaney, Kia Motors America’s director of marketing, tells Marketing Daily that until now, Kia has been promoting the car pretty much only with newspaper ads in key markets and through the Kia Classic Golf Tournament. He says the new TV spot will be joined by two more, with the new ads taking a closer look at the car's technology. Cadenza, which went on sale in April, will also be part of Kia's official auto-sponsor arrangement with the NBA beginning with finals starting Thursday. Print starts mid-month.

“We are getting so many extremely positive auto press reviews and technology publication reviews that we are looking at ways to integrate that,” says Chaney, adding that digital includes a content partnership with Wired magazine's online property and Golf.com, as well as through distribution of videos and ads about the car on a broad network of sites. 

There are also direct marketing elements and an experiential program to begin later in July via partnership with restaurant guide and reservation site OpenTable.com. “So we will be reaching their upscale customers and offering test drives paired with food,” he says. “We are finalizing routing right now, but it will be in our top 10 markets.” The butts-in-seats element includes bringing the Cadenza to office parks and upscale venues. 

Chaney asserts that yes, Kia can hold its own against not only mainstream sedans, but versus the ES’s, C-Classes, TL’s, 3-Series, ATS’s, A4’s, and MKZ’s of the world. “Based upon not only the media reception we’ve gotten, but also research we’ve done with our target customer and initial buyers, we are optimistic: it’s being really well received, and with early buyers we are definitely getting a cross-section of people, including those trading in BMWs and Mercedeses. And we have a cross section of midsize and large car move-ups, as well.” he says. “We will always have the top-end wanting the prestige of a luxury nameplate, but there’s definitely a trend since the recession toward value as the ‘new cool.’”

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