In the beginning of 2015, KIA launched a new communications universe. Since then, KIA has noted new sales records and sold more cars than ever. This has taken place in the year in which the auto industry has had the most new models – without KIA itself having launched anything other than discrete face lifts.
The challenge prior to 2015 was that there was a regular price ward in the A and B segments in which KIA sells more than two-thirds of its cars. At the same time, a large number of competitors wanted to introduce brand new models in precisely these segments in 2015. While KIA itself did not have any new models in its model line-up and therefore had reduced its marketing budget.
The task was therefore loud and clear. A communications strategy needed to be developed as well as a predominantly tactical, yet still creative TV concept that could maintain KIA’s position and market shares despite the lack of new models in 2015. The creative concept needed to be flexible and cost-effective, since there were no resources to continuously produce new films and at the same time maintain reasonable media attention.
Based on our analyses and insights, it became clear that there was an urgent need to increase the quality perception of KIA. However, without a consequential change in the perception of price. In doing so, we would significantly shift the perception of getting value for money. The new communication needed to ensure that even more people became aware of KIA so that focus was directed toward KIA up to 2016, when KIA again would have new product launches on the market
From the outside looking in, communication in the auto industry is incredibly similar and boring. Most cars brands versionise international material and add still images at the end with an offer, and if you blink your eyes for a short moment, you miss who the sender is.
With a reduced marketing budget and a year without new models, we did not think that it was the right solution to place ourselves in the slipstream of our competitors. There was still a need to communicate tactically in the form of clear sales messages and rationale arguments such as warranty and equipment packages, but we could not afford to drown in the noise from competitors. The creative starting point was therefore that we should distance ourselves and create an added value for the KIA brand. The solution was to build up a flexible and recognisable 3D animated universe which KIA cars should always be presented in and which was in sharp contrast to the many environmental images from all the competitors. To ensure differentiation between the different car models, each model was given its own recognisable colour universe.
An important element in the creative strategy for KIA was that the design and desirability needed to come into the foreground in such a way as to raise the quality perception and surprise in a positive manner. The consumers needed to sit back and be pleasantly surprised and think that the KIA cars were really desirable and that you get a lot of car for the money.
This is a case of how creativity is the best tool to create effective campaigns. Instead of sitting back and simply trying to maintain market shares and position, there was an ambitious approach in the communication. With great flexibility, a brand new creative universe was launched which stood out during the advertising break, let the car come into focus and at the same time made it possible to provide a wide range of tactical messages. Despite the lack of news and aggressive competitions, the new communications universe managed to achieve a surprising sales record, and in 2015, KIA has had its best sales years ever on the Danish market.
Thus, in 2015, KIA sold 11,058 units, which is an increase of 13.25% in relation to 2014 – and that is in a year without new models and where the market only increased by 9.8%.