Can environmentalism be funny? Kia toys with that idea in a Super Bowl LI ad that shows Melissa McCarthy attempting to save a whale, a falling tree and a charging rhinoceros.
The 60-second "Hero's Journey" was released Wednesday morning and will air during the game in the third quarter. Kia lead agency David & Goliath handled the spot. The ad features the new Niro hybrid crossover.
Car and truck marketers are always big Super Bowl spenders. Kia, a Super Bowl regular, is going up against auto rivals including Audi, Buick, Ford, Honda, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz (if not others that aren't yet confirmed to be in the game). Humor, celebrity and spectacle -- at least as much as in other ad categories, but arguably moreso -- are the standard tools to try to separate from the pack.
"People will go to great lengths to support the causes they are passionate about, and the Niro is a 'smarter kind of crossover' for those looking to go green without making sacrifices," Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and executive-VP for Kia Motors America, said in a press release. "The Niro is like nothing consumers have seen before, and with an audience of over 100 million people tuning in, Melissa McCarthy is the perfect partner to tell the world about Kia's uniquely alluring yet practical new crossover."
Kia included the following statement from Ms. McCarthy in the release: "For years, I've been trying to find the perfect project that combined the real threat of me breaking every bone in my body, with my desire to help save the environment. Thanks Kia!!! XOXO Love, Melissa."
The automaker debuted the spot on its so-called NiroBot, a chatbot created late last year for Facebook's Messenger platform as a way for consumers to get information and have questions answered in real time.
During Sunday's game, consumers who engage with the NiroBot will get the chance to win what Kia is calling "MPGs" (Melissa's Precious Gear), including more than 40 props from the set of the commercial.