today's AMAZING TV AD : honda's "cog" 2 minute tv spot

for more on this, go to this post :; april 14 post.
the inspiration is mount pinatubo when some years ago, all of a sudden, after decades of being dormant, it decided to erupt, spewing debris and ash several kilometers high, blowing ashes to float everywhere, far and wide, turning the skies gloomy gray as far away as metro manila, hundreds of kilometers away, covering metro manila streets and rooftops with thick ash. the pinatubo eruption was so powerful that its ashes changed the color of sunsets not only in the philippines but also worldwide.

that's what happens when clients and advertising agencies decide to run ads not worthy to be called advertising. its dark, its huge and very irritating and unfortunately, everywhere!

all they are doing is wawam! what a waste of advertising money!

here is a first row view of Philippine Advertising and Philippine Marketing.

mount pinatubo erupts shooting ashes several kilometers high, then floating to blanket many other towns hundreds of kilometers away

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

kia motors print ad - what the hell is that ad?

this is a 2nd hand (pre-owned) kia car that's for sale and posted in the internet. it's year model is very close to the year if not exactly the same year the kia print ad here was released. so the kia in the picture is most likely the model the new kia model in the ad is supposed to replace.

kia at the the time of the print ad was one of the first car brands that offered an almost mini-car with very spare accessories and features. to good effect, at that time, kia had the lowest price among all the cars in the country. and that is exactly the reputation, what kia is known for in the market at that time - lowest price car in the market.

that reputation is obviously something kia and its agency knew about and was probably one of the main consideration they had when they developed the print ad. that's a good thing. knowing your brand's reputation or brand image when you do a new ad, specially for a new car model is the right thing to do.

note that this ad was published years ago. when i first saw the ad, i was dumbfounded. no, in fact i almost fell off my chair nearly spilled steaming hot coffee on myself. with my mouth open, still looking at the newspaper ad, i told myself, "what the hell is this ad??!!". years ago, i did not yet have the word WAWAM!, but it sure does fit this ad. by the way they had very heavy placement on this ad. again, what the hell is this ad?

we have talked about creative teams who have become very lazy, that all they did was put sharon cuneta on the ad and did nothing else in the tv ad. the creative team in this kia ad is of a different kind - this creative team fell so much in love with their ad concept that they forgot everything else.

actually, it's a ad full of comedy errors. i think it's an ad that started with very good intentions and in their pursuit of these intentions, they were unable to see the quicksand they put themselves into.

the ad is all about honesty and realism. i can imagine the creative team passionately making the presentation, they probably made a big point on the importance of starting off with the then current reputation of kia cars. and i bet they said it's like a zen ad - simple and direct to the point, qualities of honesty and realism. they wanted so much to focus on it, that they said, it will be a simple layout - just words, plain ones and set in a plain black background, the epitome of honesty and straight talk. ok, we got that. and the clients obviously bought it. that sounds really great. the agency was most probably able to bring the clients to cloud 9 and while in a hypnotic trance approved the ad without knowing that - THEY ACTUALLY FORGOT ABOUT SOMETHING.

and that something is a most basic question of any advertising campaign and marketing plan - WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

it's a very strange print ad. ads are supposed to make people want to buy the product or service. and to do that, ads usually present the product in the best light possible. for those that can, some even claim superiority, being better than all other brands. or some select a certain benefit the product can give that is meaningful or attractive to the target audience. there are many ways to do it, those are just two.

this print ad doesn't do that. in fact what this ad did was the opposite - it admitted the kia car is NOT the best around. this thought in the ad is one of many comedy of errors.

why did they do that? the ad campaign concept is about honesty, their end tag says "We tell it as it is." and within that ad concept, they did just that. but in the process of doing it, they forgot to make a sale. not only did they not make a sale, they admitted that compared to other cars, they have nothing to offer that's better than others. huh? what? this is probably the first ad in the history of advertising that is trying to sell itself on the basis of not offering consumers something better, in effect, they are offering consumers something worse than others. that's just the first part of the print ad. things get screwed up even more as you read the rest of the ad.

the lead-in asked, "Are Kias the best cars available?" and the answer to that lead-in is, "Maybe not, but our new Kia models are definitely better than before." ah, the ad is saying this new model is much better than the existing ones, so that means, the target audience of this ad is - current owners of kia cars! that is a fatal mistake! another comedy of error.

i am saying the target audience is current kia car owners because that kind of proposition is meaningful only to current owners of kia cars. it has no meaning at all to owners of other brands and first time car buyers because they do not have any point of comparison, they do not own a kia! if you don't have a kia car experience, the line, supposedly a "superiority claim" will sound greek to you.

it can be argued that that kind of proposition can appeal to car buyers who previously looked at a kia but got turned off by it. well ok, that is possible. but here's the problem there - those who looked at a kia and got turned off before may have already decided to buy another brand at that time! that's also one of the reasons why it's a fatal mistake - car replacement frequency in the philippines is not very frequent, people tend to hold on to their cars for a long time.

so now, you have a print ad that in its pursuit of honesty as an ad campaign concept, zen and all, developed a proposition that sells itself on an inferiority positioning versus other cars, and in the process may have unintentionally limited it to a very small target audience, the few number of kia car owners and on something that is not at all meaningful to other car owners and new car buyers! this obsessive pursuit of honesty has pushed this ad to a confusion of who the real target audience is and removed a proposition.

but that's not yet the biggest problem of this ad.

as mentioned earlier, i think the ad agency started this ad campaign with very good intentions. one of the most important good intention was they really wanted to present kia in a position of superiority or at least on an "er" claim, as in "better" claim/positioning. they knew they could not claim superiority versus other cars, so they looked for something else that allowed them to do so and that is against themselves.

that ad campaign concept is often seen in p&g and uni-lever advertising where they start the ad with the talent saying "i found a detergent that is better than Tide Detergent, i found New Improved Tide Detergent!" then goes on to make a sale on how the New Improved Tide is better than the old. it's a smart way of communicating product improvements and create that "impression" of superiority without needing to claim it for real.

but that kind of concept works only for products where the purchase cycle is short and often. it does not work with cars where the purchase cycle is many years. people buy detergents on a daily basis, but people buy cars after many years.

and combining that concept with an obsession on honesty really did them in. superiority claims against your own brand work well only if you detail in the ad the ways your new improved product is superior over the old one. they did nothing of the sort in this ad. i think the ad agency thought the honesty ad campaign concept prevented them from doing that. in their minds, those two ideas became contradictory, like an oxymoron for kia cars. besides, it wasn't zen enough.

honesty is a good thing, but it might not be something good to use in an ad, not in the way they did in the print ad. product superiority is much better to use in ads than just plain honesty. it's simple really, one of the top 10 rules in advertising is to make a sale and to do that, give the consumer something to bite on to, something better than that of the competition. none of that happened here.

the bottom line why this is a WAWAM! - this is a print ad that did not have a proposition and one that did not have a target audience! in other words, this ad shot itself in the foot! not zen at all!

1 comment:

  1. Do you know when this Kia ad was ran? I'm trying to do a write-up on it for my consumer behavior class. Thanks!


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