As auto brand Kia Motors - one we've seen as sponsor for many sporting tournaments, globally - trains its sights on India, we analyse the brand's strategy and TG here.
South Korean carmaker, Kia Motors is about to roll out its wheels onto Indian roads. The brand recently launched its latest ad film which focuses on its designs claiming that it draws 'inspiration' from various things like an astronaut, a footballer and even a humming-bird, to name a few.
The brand's logo - 'KIA', positioned inside an oval - should already be somewhat familiar to Indian tennis fans. This would be because of the brand's long-standing global connection with the game as a sponsor partner. Its logos are splashed across international courts quite often.
Kia Motors signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the State Government of Andhra Pradesh in April 2017 to build a new manufacturing facility in the Anantapur district. Construction of Kia Motors' first manufacturing facility in India is underway and it is expected to begin production in the second half of 2019 and produce approximately 300,000 units per year.
The brand had launched teasers of the campaign a couple of months ago before unveiling the full ad.
Kia Motors Corporation was founded in 1944. It produces around three million vehicles a year at 14 manufacturing and assembly operations in five countries which are then sold and serviced in 180 countries. It is a major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA.
However, in India, a country that clearly doesn't have a cricket-like appetite for tennis, Kia's found a new vehicle - football.
"India, for us, is a very important market and we visualise it having a lot of energy and passion. In our first year of operations, we have brought in our 'Official Match Ball Carriers' (OMBC) program for FIFA World Cup along with the Australian Open 'Ball-Kids'' program, for which we sponsored the Indian Ball Kids Squad to the Australian Open 2019," the Kia Motors team tells afaqs!.
Kia Motors India created an opportunity for Indian football players between the ages of 10-14 to experience the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, as part of its OMBC program.
"We have also strengthened our relationship with football in the country by partnering with the Bengaluru FC, who also won the championship this year. Kia will surprise everyone with not only our design-focused approach to cars but also our upcoming sports associations," the Kia team adds.
In India, the brand is primarily targeting 'tech-savvy', 'young professionals' "who are passionate about sports and cars and aspire for a sporty vehicle that's fun to drive and keeps them a step ahead of their peer groups, socially."
The brand also states that the campaign aims to create an impact on automobile customers across the nation leading up to the launch of the Kia SP2i SUV in India. "The brand campaign brings out the sporty, aspirational and design elements that the Indian audience will relate to and, therefore, will feel a connect with the brand," the team mentions.
The brand has unveiled its 360-degree multi-media campaign which will continue till the launch of its SUV. It will be supported by digital campaigns. "While TV will play the role of creating awareness for the Kia Global Design philosophy, the digital medium will engage with new age customers to bring to life the different facets of the Kia Brand. Below the line initiatives will be aimed at bringing the connect with the above," says the Kia India team.
The brand aims to launch its first car in the country in the second half of 2019 and plans to be among the top five automakers in India within three years. The company recently announced the commencement of trial production at its manufacturing facility in Anantapur, in Andhra Pradesh.
Creative consultant L Suresh says, "I was intrigued when I saw the Kia teasers with the astronaut and the tiger. Finally, I caught the launch film on YouTube - and felt a bit let down. I was looking for a specific link between a tiger/astronaut and the vehicle. However, they, with a few other characters like a footballer, a hummingbird and ballerinas, flitted past as inspirations."
He adds, "A bit of research revealed that each of these elements inspired specific features of the car and its design. But where is this story going to be told? Who's going to dig deep enough to find out? When I scrolled down to the responses below the TVC, I was in for a surprise. The treatment of the film, especially the audio track, was racking up rave reviews."
Suresh explains, "A typical YouTube audience had fallen in love with the film. But did Kia set out to make a film for the post-millennials? A Rs 20 lakh plus sedan, the Stinger, is not a zippy hatchback that could be the first car of the young professional. I was part of an ecosystem that launched three sedans for an auto major and each time, the mantra was the same - get Delhi and you get your numbers. The question is, how will Delhi react to this ad?"
On the positioning of the brand, Suresh says, "In a country where most cars are sold either on performance or emotions, using inspiration as a positioning is interesting. But a lot of questions need to be answered. How are your inspirations making a difference to the brand/product? Is there an innovation story here? How will it 'inspire' the TA to choose Kia (Stinger) over the competition? Or will it be just another car with a remodelled grill?"