Kia will sit out Super Bowl, breaking 11-year streak
Another regular Super Bowl advertiser is sitting out the game. Kia will break its 11-year Big Game streak, joining Hyundai, Budweiser, Coke and Pepsi as big-name brands that are opting out of in-game ads as they shift priorities during COVID.
“After a decade of creative and award-winning Super Bowl campaigns, Kia will not be advertising in Super Bowl LV,” Russell Wager, VP of marketing for Kia Motors North America, said in a statement, adding that the brand would instead “expand its charitable initiatives in support of America’s youth.”
The automaker did not detail its contribution this year, but pointed to two separate $1 million donations aimed at supporting America’s homeless youth population that were made in 2020 as the pandemic set in. Kia in 2019 began its “Great Unknowns” youth scholarship program, plugging it as part of its Super Bowl ad campaign that year.
The cost of 30 seconds in the year’s game is an average of $5.6 million. That does not include the costs of ad production and talent. So, Kia would have to make quite a sizable charitable donation to match what it normally spends for the Super Bowl.
Budweiser also went the charitable route, announcing earlier this week that it would skip the game for the first time in 37 years and make a donation to a vaccine awareness campaign. Pepsi is still spending big on halftime show marketing, but other brands skipping the game seem to be saving money, or at least avoiding the potential ad production headaches that come with making ads during social distancing.
Kia’s absence will seemingly guarantee that the auto category will produce far fewer Super Bowl ads than in recent years. Only GM and Toyota have confirmed ads this year so far, with GM saying it will run two 60-second spots for electric vehicles. In addition to Hyundai, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Ford are among the brands that have said they have no plans to run ads in the game. Jeep owner Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has not yet confirmed its plans.
In the 2020 Super Bowl, six automakers consumed a total of seven minutes and 30 seconds of airtime, spending an estimated $77 million on media buys—more than any other category, according to Kantar. The category’s recent high-water mark came in 2018, when 11 auto brands ran ads.
Kia for years had been known for lighthearted, celebrity-filled Super Bowl ads from agency David & Goliath that had starred the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Christopher Walken and Pierce Brosnan. The brand began taking a more serious tone in 2019 with an ad that spotlighted the small town of West Point, Ga., home to the Kia plant where the Telluride is manufactured.
Kia’s decision to sit out the Super Bowl comes after it made a significant investment in New Year’s Eve marketing—its first-ever large scale effort around the holiday—that included TV ads on ABC’S “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021” broadcast, plus plenty of Times Square signage.