With Beauty And Non-Fans, Kia Touts World Cup

Fans and athletes are the main ingredients in the usual ad formula used by consumer brands activating against sports sponsorship: it’s star athletes pitching products; fans interacting with athletes; and athletes interacting with each other; and the assumption that viewers care. 

Kia's new ad campaign for its sponsorship of the ABC/ESPN broadcast of the FIFA World Cup actually starts from the assumption that Americans don’t. Care, that is. The campaign centers on a beautiful woman pitching "futbol" to non-fans in a way that, were it a guy doing the pitching, would surely lead to fisticuffs. 

The ads feature Brazilian supermodel and World Cup spokesperson Adriana Lima, whom Kia used in its Super Bowl spot two years ago to launch the Optima sedan (one of the vehicles featured in the new campaign, along with the Sorento crossover). In one spot, she strolls into a sports bar, takes the remote from a patron's hand at the bar and flips the channel from NASCAR to soccer. 

In another, Lima strolls into a garage man-cave with two other beauties and switches out sports accessories to reflect soccer instead of baseball. And there’s one where she drives an Optima onto a (American) football field, interrupts practice and kicks a ball into the gut of one of the players. Though the tag is "For one month let's all be futbol fans," her essential message is that in the rest of the world it’s all about the futbol. 

Michael Sprague, EVP of sales and marketing at Irvine, Calif.-based Kia Motors America, tells Marketing Daily that the automaker and its AOR, David&Goliath, based in Los Angeles, have always looked to take a different approach. "We thought lots of brands feature superstars kicking the ball around, so we wanted to break through that clutter; having Adriana be in our ads made sense because of the relationship we had with her when she introduced the Optima sedan in 2012.” 

The campaign is a first for Kia in the U.S. "Kia globally has been a partner of the FIFA World Cup for several years, but in 2010 we were in the midst of several launches, so we opted not to participate. Then, based on data we looked at after the 2010 games in the Hispanic and general market, we thought we needed to go ahead for 2014."

Sprague says the company will run ads during the pre-game broadcast, of which it is presenting sponsor, on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, and also in a more general buy on the networks. In addition to TV, running for six weeks starting on Thursday, there are radio, print, and social media with three Vine videos, digital banners, point-of-sale and a dedicated FIFA landing page.

Sprague predicts the ads presage what will happen with viewership with a big jump in World Cup viewing among Americans who don't usually follow the sport. "I think you will see a lot of people who wouldn't normally watch soccer. It's such a social event, particularly as our country becomes more multicultural."

He says the spots have generated some 600,000 views already on YouTube since they went live on Monday.

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