Friday, August 7, 2009

A pure rant. - Kia Forte ads

Most of the "bad" advertising out there really isn't that bad. It's pretty innocuous and ineffective, but it actually causes no harm to anyone other than the advertiser, who paid money and will see no results from it.

But there's a special category of bad advertising that is actually so bad, so annoying, so devoid of any positives, that it makes me angry. And the current Kia Forte campaign falls in that court.

I've been complaining about this campaign for months, but I wondered if it was just because I'm a pretentious ad hack. So when my sister started complaining about it the other day I realized that this was one bad ad that transcended boundaries.

Interestingly, I can't find the spot on YouTube or anywhere else, so I can't link to it. But if you've watched Canadian TV over the past 6 months, I'm sure you've seen it. And I expect that you hate it like me.

First of all, what's the point of these spots? The only thing that they accomplish is to get me to associate the word Forte with Kia cars and remember that there is a vehicle called the Kia Forte. So, if their sole objective was to drive awareness, then their job is done. However, if any of my team ever brings me a brief whose communications objective is to drive awareness, they know that they're going back to the drawing board. Awareness is never an objective. It's one part of the equation. What do you want people to be aware of? That's the far more important and challenging issue.

But what do these spots make me aware of? I don't know. Perhaps they make me aware that people who drive the Forte aren't good at anything else. (And I'm not sure if driving the Forte makes them good at anything either, except for buying a crap car.) Or maybe it just reinforces the fact that anyone driving the Forte is a massive dork, since that's what they've made all of the drivers in the spots. And, at this time, I would have to agree that anyone that drives a Forte is a dork, 'cause I wouldn't be caught dead in one after that campaign.

Those are the only two possible messages that I can take away from this campaign. There's nothing about the car, about the kind of person who drives it, or even the kind of experience you might have in driving one. There's nothing else. The entire message is about the name of the car. They couldn't come up with anything other than the name as a feature? Does the freakin' car have an engine? A fifth cup-holder? A bilingual manual? Anything?

Maybe, heaven forbid, this has been a successful campaign for Kia and sales have gone up. I have a hard time imagining that, but it happens from time to time. And there's no doubt that they put some serious support behing the campaign, because I saw the spots dozens of time. So maybe they've sold a few cars, but this has to be bad not just for the Forte, but for the overall Kia brand, which had a nice little niche and I suspect has now killed that niche.

I'm tempted to rant more about the agency that did this. But there are a lot of factors that go into creating something this bad. And the truth is that you can see how something like this would happen. Someone came up with a little idea about the name and thought it was a fun little joke. The agency pushed hard and found a way to sell it in. Someone made a joke at the start of the meeting about "presentations are not my forte" and everyone laughed and the thing took on a life of its own. Maybe the client felt unsure, but the agency talked him into it and assured him that "not my forte" will become part of the vernacular. So the client dropped his million dollar production budget into a few spots, showed it to his bosses who decided to trust him that day, and it just happened.

Good lord. I love this business. But sometimes it just baffles me. Back to it now.

1 comment:

Christy said...

You took the words right out of my head. Freaky.