Kia: La Première star

While vignettes and promercials give advertisers a closer connection with viewers without losing brand messaging control and enable them to work on their own terms and timelines, for some marketers the chance to achieve total integration within a show is worth the risk. And by controlling all the ad elements beyond the script, that risk is lessened.

While vignettes and promercials give advertisers a closer connection with viewers without losing brand messaging control and enable them to work on their own terms and timelines, for some marketers the chance to achieve total integration within a show is worth the risk. And by controlling all the ad elements beyond the script, that risk is lessened.

Kia plays an integral role on CBC’s six-part series The Tournament with a Kia dealership being the place of business for a couple of the characters and Kia vehicles being driven. The auto manufacturer has open and closing billboards around the show, on-air promotion and hockey-themed advertising as well as a link with The Tournament’s Web site, cbc.ca/thetournament. The Web site features a faux ad for Stan Rykman Kia Motors, the Kia dealership in the program, that when clicked on takes viewers to the Kia Canada site. There its vehicles and hockey-themed ‘Bring Back Hockey’ spots can be viewed.

Ross Cunningham, marketing manager for Kia Canada, says the company had talked to ZenithOptimedia about doing something beyond its traditional advertising and they brought in an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of The Tournament. Because Kia is a young company that has only been in Canada for about six years, its efforts are focused on building brand awareness and familiarity with its models.

Although it might seem risky to jump into something with no track record, Cunningham says there are a lot of other companies competing for the same properties so decisions have to be made quickly.

‘We’re a young company and pride ourselves on being a little more nimble. We’re smart, we have people with a lot of experience here – and we’re dealing with people at the agency that are seasoned as well – but when you get right down to it, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. We want to build our brand identity, so when we looked at [The Tournament] it was something we couldn’t pass up.’

Cunningham says there has been lots of feedback from Kia dealers about people coming in because they watched The Tournament but says it’s tough to pinpoint the number of vehicles that might have been sold because of involvement with the show.

‘We’re trying to build the brand and that takes a number of years. This is just a stepping stone. It’s not like it’s a big sales promotion. We’ll build the brand for tomorrow and we’ll sell vehicles for today.’

Kia has also tied in with Casting, a series that started at the end of January on French-language network TQS. The show features 13 young actors working with a seasoned writer and producer to show their talents by acting out 64 half-hour dramas, four days per week over a 16-week period.