Kia Looks Up, Hyundai 'Boosts' Up

Kia is launching a grassroots summer driving campaign for its first luxury car, the K900. The effort for the real-wheel car centers on a series of national lifestyle  events nationwide and a partnership with foodie app OpenTable. The point is to give influencers a test-drive opportunity paired with dining and top chefs. 

On the ground, the K900 will be at 12 auto and lifestyle events in coming months, starting with this weekend's Newport Beach Jazz Festival in California, where it is “official vehicle,”  and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y. 

Michael Sprague, Kia's U.S. marketing chief, said in a statement that the automaker needs to reinforce its premium positioning for the car, especially via affinity marketing, because Kia isn't exactly known as a luxury brand. "The K900…challenges everything people think they know about Kia, and this latest extension of our marketing efforts is designed to create opportunities for consumers to experience and interact with our new flagship at cultural and lifestyle events that are new to our brand." 

Kia has been explicit about that on the advertising front, with ads via LA-based David&Goliath that use a Matrix motif. The creative, complete with Lawrence Fishburne reprising his role as Morpheus, introduces the idea that brand perception is a Matrix-like illusion making one blind to the reality of what a product can deliver. Thus, the product attributes of the K900 gainsay the persistent idea that Kia is a lower-end mass market brand. 

Kia and the K900 will also be at California’s Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance (pretty much a required audition for luxury players); and will have exclusive-vehicle-partner status at the Chastain Park Arts Festival in Atlanta; the Sculpture Objects Functional Art & Design in Chicago; the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show; and the San Diego Food & Wine Festival. 

Meanwhile, sibling Hyundai Motor America is trying on a new kind of incentive, something of a stealth spiff that won't hurt resale values the way traditional cash-on-the-hood deals do, theoretically. The automaker is using social-saving platform BoostUp -- which is designed as a way for people to save for big-ticket purchases -- to add $500 to the accounts of any consumer planning to save for and buy the 2015 Sonata, which starts at around $21,150.

BoostUp said Hyundai is the first automotive company player to be a partner of the company, which partners with brands to incentivize consumer transactions. "The Sonata promotion is unique to BoostUp, as our users won't have to wait until the end of the buying process to receive their 'Boost' from one of our partners," said John Morgan, Founder and CEO of BoostUp, in a statement. The effort is at BoostUp.com/Hyundai-Sonata, where people can sign up, first by explaining why they want the car.

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