David&Goliath Traces Kia Motors' Amazing Rise

NEW YORK — Ever wonder how a group of hip-hop dancing hamsters ended up as one of the most successful and memorable ad campaigns in automotive history?

David Angelo, founder and chairman of David&Goliath, told attendees how at the 2nd Annual MediaPost Marketing:Automotive conference at the New York Auto Show.  

Angelo took us on a journey that traces Kia Motors’ rise from virtual unknown to the eighth-largest car brand in the United States. David & Goliath was founded with Kia as its inaugural client. 

“In the beginning, we had our work cut out for us,” he told the audience. “There was doubt whether the agency would last a year.”



Both the agency and the automaker had no shortage of challenges. In 2011, there was speculation that the parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, would kill the Kia brand. 

Fast-forward to 2017 when Kia’s Super Bowl spot for the new Kia Niro hybrid with Melissa McCarthy won the USA Today Ad Meter.

Along the way was 2009, or as Angelo likes to call it, “the year of the hamster.” Hip-hopping dancing hamsters served up the Kia Soul.

“Everyone thought we were crazy,” he said “The dealers looked at me like I was committing career suicide. That was until consumers flocked to the showrooms and then they told me, ‘David, put hamsters in everything.’”

Next up was Kia’s sponsorship of the NBA and TV spots featuring Blake Griffin dunking over a Kia Optima. Within 72 hours, there were 135 million consumer impressions. More importantly, Kia had its best sales month ever. 

“Over the next few years we continued to punch above our weight,” Angelo said, including eight consecutive Super Bowl spots. 

Recently the brand teamed with NBA Superstar Lebron James, “a man as familiar with doubters as we are.”

Angelo had some advice for other marketers. “Find your voice and live it every day,” he said. “Turn Goliaths into opportunities. And be willing to challenge convention.”

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