Kia treats its redesigned Sorento as a whole new car

A campaign tries to create the same kind of buzz that would come with a new model to show what the automaker stands for today.

When preparing the launch of its redesigned Sorento, Kia faced two challenges.

The first was finding a way to talk about all of its new features, says Michael Kopke, Kia’s director of marketing. The second was finding a way to make a model initially launched almost two decades ago stand out in a competitive crossover SUV segment and among its lineup, which now includes both the Telluride and Seltos models.

Further, it had to manage both of those objectives while respecting the model’s importance. Last year, Kia sold 11,043 Sorento models.

“The Sorento has been in the Canadian marketplace and really closely associated with our brand for a very long time,” explains Kopke. “Until the Seltos arrived, it was our number one volume vehicle. It’s key to our brand.”

While redesigns are part of the “regular cadence” of a vehicle’s lifecycle, the Sorento’s represents a rare ground-up rework, built on Kia’s new N3 platform.

“The only thing that carries forward from the old model is the badge on the back,” says Kopke. “It represents the brand, who we are today and offers a really strong glimpse of who we’re going to be in the future. But the challenge is distilling that into an emotive story that captures the attention of our audience.”

The approach it took aimed to recapture the success Kia had with its launch for the Seltos, which had the number one viewed automotive spot on YouTube in 2020, Kopke says, helped not just by the visuals, but by the use of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.”.

“Music played an important role in that,” he explains. “So we brought that learning forward, leveraging the strong, visual creative and on top of it, going with some really compelling music.”

In the hero spot for the new “The Drive is Yours” campaign, Kia and agency of record Innocean pair Thutmose’s song “Run Wild” with some quick cuts of the vehicle in motion – according to Kopke, the goal is to generate excitement for the redesign and reposition the Sorento as a “more sophisticated, modern, contemporary and rewarding” SUV.

But the campaign as a whole promotes the Sorento as though it were a new nameplate, and not one first launched in 2002. That included pre-launch advertising that seeded the Sorento nameplate and helped generate buzz for the redesign. Now, the campaign is rolling out with TV, online video and display, search and social and email advertising.

“We’re starting to appeal more to the mindset of the driver,” he says. “It’s their vehicle, not so much just the family vehicle anymore. They want it for them. They want something premium on the inside, they want good driving performance, they want that reward of the driving experience back in their lives.”