The Other McCain

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KIA: Cars for Creeps? Company Claims Brazilian Agency’s Ad Was Unauthorized

Posted on | June 26, 2011 | 13 Comments

Ace of Spades headlined this: “Kia Motors: Our New Cars Are As Hot As Sex With Very Young Children!” — which obviously isn’t a message the Korean automaker intended to send.

Jim Edwards of CBS business news headlined the story, “Kia’s Pedophile Ad Campaign Illustrates Everything Wrong With the Ad Business.” You will perhaps not be surprised that this ad campaign won an industry award . . . in France.

See the whole ad here. And see a second “Sleeping Beauty” ad here.

Aaron Worthing asks, “Can Someone Give Me a Non-Creepy Explanation For These Kia Ads?” Good question. The actual theme of the ad is: “A Different Temperature on Each Side: KIA Sportage With Dual Zone Air Conditioning.” But surely there was a way to call attention to the dual-zone AC feature without resorting to this kind of weirdness.

KIA claims it never approved or published these ads, and that the ads were created by a Brazilian agency without KIA’s authorization. In other words, the agency created the ads as a sort of mock-up specifically for the French competition. Edwards publishes the KIA statement:

Kia Motors America (KMA) has become aware of an offensive piece of advertising material that was created by an ad agency in Brazil that KMA has no business relationship with and has never worked with. This ad was not created in the U.S. by Kia Motors America or any of its marketing partners and does not reflect the opinions or values of KMA or Kia Motors Corporation. The ad is undoubtedly inappropriate, and on behalf of Kia Motors we apologize to those who have been offended by it. We can guarantee this advertisement has never and will never be used in any form in the United States, and our global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea is addressing the issue with the independent Brazilian distributor.

The agency apparently violated the competition rules, Edwards says: “This is a the second recent occasion in which a Brazilian ad agency has been caught entering an ad at Cannes that was not fully approved by a client.”

So it would appear that KIA is actually the victim rather than the perpetrator of this outrage, which leads us to other questions: Why did the agency think that this fake ad would be suitable for competition? And did the judges at the French competition really mean to encourage such themes in advertising?

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