Kia made a return to Super Bowl advertising with an interesting spot which apparently says much regarding what the Korean automaker believes to be important to U.S. based consumers.

The ad features Kia’s new eco-friendly compact SUV the “EV6,” as well as an animated robotic dog who runs away from the retail establishment which the robot was serving as a display item at.

As the robot dog attempts to find the EV6 and its driver the electro-mechanical pooch runs out of battery power at the perilous inopportune moment the puppy happen to be leaping from a multi-story-high city building.

… fade to black.

We then see the Good-Samaritan EV6 owner attempting to charge (read, “resuscitate”) the fallen robot as, similar to the Biblical parable; other less sympathetic, less caring people choose to walk by.

In the final act of the ad we see the resuscitated robot-puppy going for a ride in the EV6, apparently standing on the front passenger seat, his robotic puppy head out the car’s window, carbon fiber ears flapping in wind.

I wonder if the car’s driver strapped him in?

What does this ad communicate about the Kia executives responsible for the ad?

  • Kia seeks the EV6 to appeal to urban dwelling males who may be inclined to choose an EV compact SUV over other available automotive classes, whether that be full-sized SUVs, coupes, sedans, mini-vans or trucks.
  • Kia is sending a clear message, the EV6 is attractive to those who may see themselves as Good-Samaritans, or who identify with Good-Samaritan tendencies in others; both by saving-the-planet from carbon emissions as well as recharging robotic puppies. It is important to note that the ad communicates nothing about the EV6’s long range capability, cargo handling, ample passenger room, stylish design or performance advantages. Key to this ad is relating a virtual-signaling call to action: good people, people who care will drive EV6s.
  • Potentially the most misplaced messaging in this ad is two-fold: (A) despite the fact that Hyundai now owns Boston Dynamics and therefore Kia likely had the the capacity to have an actual robotic dog star in the ad versus a computer-animated surrogate, Kia chose not to; and (B) the ad’s story line reinforces the primary consumer hesitancy about all battery powered devices … that the battery may run low and deplete at the least opportune time.

I score Kia’s Super Bowl ad a 3 out of 10. If Kia wants to sell EV6s it should concentrate on explaining why an EV6 can do every normal mundane thing we rely on cars for better than internal combustion alternatives, both from Kia and the competition.

After watching this ad I feel far more inclined to purchase the puppy than the car. I wonder if the Good-Samaritan EV6 owner returned to the store to pay for his puppy? The ad seems to suggest he just drove away.

What are your thoughts?