Kia, which has a history of putting celebrities in its Super Bowl ads, is going without a star this year. Instead the South Korean automaker will use its ad to launch "The Great Unknowns Scholarship," which it says will help "help young people in need get a foothold in higher education."
The effort was teased with an ad that ran during Sunday's NFC Championship game on Fox that sought to connect Kia to commoners, not A-listers. In the ad, a boy with a southern accent says: "Right now companies everywhere are choosing celebrity endorsers for their big-game ad. Millions will be paid, just like any other year. But what if it wasn't? What if a few of those celebrity paychecks got set aside to help unfamous people? What if this year in some way, it was about the rest of us?"
The Super Bowl campaign is by Kia U.S. agency-of-record David & Goliath.
Using a pricey Super Bowl ad to plug a charity is not new. Hyundai last year ran an ad promoting nonprofit group, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, that distributes a small portion of proceeds from every Hyundai vehicle purchased to institutions fighting childhood cancer. Kia is a corporate affiliate of Hyundai, which went back to the celebrity approach this year with an ad that will star Jason Bateman.
Kia, which is appearing in its 10th-straight Super Bowl, used Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler in its ad last year. It used Melissa McCarthy in 2017, Christopher Walken in 2016 and Pierce Brosnan in 2015.