|Kia is boosting its Hispanic spending, with as much as 12% of its sales attributed to that demographic.
Mendoza Dillon resigns
The pitch ran parallel to the carmaker's review of its general market account, which remained with David & Goliath, Los Angeles. The Hispanic business was previously at WPP Group's Mendoza Dillon of Irvine, Calif., but the agency resigned the account about eight months ago because it was unprofitable, a Mendoza Dillon executive said.
For the last couple years, Kia hasn't done original Spanish-language creative or strategic planning.
"We were counting on a hefty account, but budgets were frozen for the Hispanic market," the Mendoza Dillon executive said.
Other carmakers up spending
But now carmakers are upping their spending, and no one wants to be left out. After a high-profile review, Nissan North America moved its Hispanic account in late 2004 to the Vidal Partnership of New York, more than doubling its budget to $50 million by adding a new tier of regional spending to the national account. And General Motors Corp. raised its Hispanic spending to record levels last year. GM's agency is Interpublic Group of Cos.-backed Accentmarketing of Miami.
Mitsubishi Motors North America, which has been using its general market agency, Interpublic's Deutsch, to translate its work into Spanish, started its own Hispanic review late last year with an initial field of 15 agencies, some of whom participated in both that pitch and Kia's. Al Punto, a finalist in both reviews, had to choose.
"Kia fits more our personality -- growing, younger, a little irreverent," said Eduardo Bottger, Al Punto's president and executive creative director. "And everyone's aware of the difficulties Mitsubishi is going through."
Rio and Sedona
Kia has already run a print and an outdoor ad for its Rio and Sedona models that Al Punto did on a project basis.
Peter Butterfield, president-CEO of Kia Motors America, said Al Punto has already presented two Spanish-language TV commercials for the all-new Sportage sport utility vehicle and the Spectra5 hatchback.
Mr. Butterfield said Kia's vehicle sales to Hispanics account for 12% of the automaker's volume in the U.S. (An agency executive said that according to industry data, Hispanic sales have dropped to about 9% of Kia's sales). Kia sold a total of 270,000 vehicles last year, nearly 14% more than in 2003, Mr. Butterfield said.