New Campaign Takes Humorous Approach

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DETROIT ( -- Kia Motors America breaks an estimated $40 million campaign for its Sedona minivan March 10 on national broadcast and cable TV.

Three 30-second ads show humorous "moments of jeopardy" for children. One spot shows an orangutan at a zoo grabbing a boy as his mom tries to take a snapshot. Another shows a blindfolded girl whacking two other children with a stick as she tries to break a pinata. The tagline "Protect them while you can" appears at the end of the spots, which were created by independent David and Goliath, Los Angeles.

The Irvine, Calif.-based automaker said it will run the spots in alternating monthlong flights for the rest of the year. The Sedona is one of three models Kia will focus its ads on in 2003.

Return to humor
The prior sole Sedona spot, depicting a crash test for the government-rated five-star minivan, "was a very serious ad," said Wally Anderson, vice president of marketing. While that spot built awareness for Kia's first minivan in the past year, "it didn't really fit in with" the brand's traditional ad humor, he said.

Nigel Williams, creative director at David and Goliath, said the work differs from mainstream minivan ads, which are more likely to tout cup holders, sliding doors or other features. He wanted the ads to show that minivan drivers carry "everything precious in the world."

Minivan competition
Competition in the stagnant minivan category is expected to heat up this year with redone or new models, experts said.

Toyota Motor Sales USA breaks an estimated $60 million campaign early next month for its second-generation Sienna minivan. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Torrance, will use a "kids rule" theme.

Minivan sales slipped 4% in 2002 to some 1.1 million units vs. 2001 and are expected to remain flat this year, said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of Toyota Division. But he predicted sales of the redone Sienna will rise from 81,000 last year with the old model to between 130,000 and 150,000 units this year.

He said marketers of older minivans will be vulnerable, including Chrysler Group.

Chrysler and Ford
Chrysler has been at the top of the segment since launching its first minivans in late 1983. Ford Motor Co. also has new entries due this fall for its Ford and Mercury brands.

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