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Behind the Scenes of the 2024 Kia EV9 Super Bowl Commercial

Michael Kahn

Behind the Scenes of the 2024 Kia EV9 Super Bowl Commercial

This Super Bowl season, Kia is set to enchant viewers with a 60-second commercial for the all-new 2024 Kia EV9. The commercial is designed to showcase the EV9 as a beacon of hope and a source of power to illuminate the lives around us. To examine the making of the commercial, Michael Kahn, Publisher at The Weekly Driver conducted an exclusive telephone interview with Russell Wager, Vice President of Marketing at Kia America. Wager shared behind-the-scenes insights, revealing the creative process and strategic thinking that went into the making of the “Perfect 10” commercial.

Behind the Scenes of the 2024 Kia EV9 Super Bowl Commercial

Featuring the collaborative track “Wish I Was Here” by Cat Power and Coldplay, the ad tells the heartwarming tale of a young figure skater, her father, and grandfather, emphasizing the emotional connections and the innovative features of the Kia EV9.

Wager highlights the ad’s focus showing a story so many viewers of the Super Bowl can relate to. The EV9 powers a magical moment on a makeshift ice rink in the wilderness, creating a special performance for an audience of one – the figure skater’s grandfather. The story inside the commercial emphasizes Kia’s commitment to electrification and the desire to connect with audiences on an emotional level.

As the 2024 Kia EV9 makes its debut in dealerships across all 50 states, this Super Bowl commercial not only introduces viewers to Kia’s innovative electric SUV but also invites them into the creative world behind its production.

Take a moment to watch Kia’s commercial, and then dive into the interview below.

Michael Kahn: What made Kia choose to highlight the EV9 EV SUV in the Super Bowl Commercial?

Russell Wager: The EV9 is in its third month of being on sale. We want to let people know that we have this new three row SUV. But more importantly, we’re in the Super Bowl because we want people to think about Kia if they’re thinking about an electrified vehicle.

We’ve got three EVs. We’ve now got seven other electrified, whether they’re hybrids or plug in hybrid vehicles. So that’s the bigger story is to get people that are thinking about purchasing an electrified vehicle and putting Kia on the list.

MK: So its a little bit of brand awareness in the EV space along with the commercial?

RW: Exactly. I always say that there’s three things, for somebody to consider being in the Super Bowl. One, launching a product. Second, telling them a little something about the brand and third, telling them what the brand stands for.

This one is doing one and two, helping launch a product and telling a little bit more about the brand in the electrified space.

MK: The ad was also showing some potential of vehicle features such as lighting up an ice skating pond. Was this purposeful?

RW: Anytime we’re doing something besides wanting to have an emotionally engaging ad concept, we want to make the vehicle, the star, the hero of the ad. The vehicle got them to grandpa’s house and it’s an SUV. It can drive through snow even though it’s electric. A lot of people think electric vehicles can’t do that.

As you pointed out, non-electric vehicles can’t provide power like that. They don’t have an onboard power generator, to light up the speaker, light up the lights. It can do a couple of extra bonus things.

MK: Were those lights actually powered by the SUV in the commercial?

RW: Yes, everything that was demonstrated we made sure that it had the right kilowatts to be able to do it.

MK: That’s really cool. I was hoping that would be a yes.

RW: Yes. We don’t demonstrate things the vehicle can’t do.

MK: The EV9 is capable of powering many strings of LED lights, but whether or not it would be happening within the commercial’s filming? What all was powered by the EV and shown?

RW: So there were two things. The father took out a large portable speakerand the lights around the ice rink – the EV9 powered both of those in the commercial.

MK: Were there any other symbolism or metaphors happening in that commercial that a viewer might want to go back and rewatch on YouTube?

RW: The biggest thing was, you got it in the first five seconds. You got to see that when the figure skater finishes her routine on the rink and looks over and sees dad. That she sees an empty seat, right? Somebody that she wanted there, but couldn’t be there. And you don’t obviously find out until later that it was Grandpa. she’s depressed. She wanted to do it, and she wasn’t sure that she’d be able to get to Grandpa.

Dad’s offers hope, this car can get us there, this car can light it up, you can recreate what you just did and make grandpa feel good.

MK: The video did a really good job of demonstrating that without any dialogue.

RW: Thank you. And the other thing that’s about this spot, we don’t have any celebrities.

I’m sure you’ve been looking at the Super Bowl commercials and last year, all but five had some sort of celebrity in it.

MK: Oh wow, I didn’t know that stat.

RW: Yeah, the idea is the story delivers a message.

Not a celebrity.

MK: Is there any significance between the daughter or the father? What is the story behind them?

Yeah, it’s a great one. So usually you’re trying to cast somebody that can do facial expressions or deliver lines, and then if there’s some action, you have to find a stunt double, i.e. figure skater.

Abigail, who’s in the film, is the skater, she does it all. She’s doing 95 percent of what she does. There was one triple jump that we did have to get somebody else to do that, but she did everything else. And she didn’t even know that she was doing a Super Bowl commercial until after we were done filming. This is actually her first commercial.

we scouted 26 locations overall across the U.S. and Canada and we found her in Toronto, Canada.

We shot the ad in Whistler, Canada.

MK: Was that pond already there or did that have to be created?

RW: We had to add a little bit to create the pond. There was a small one at the back but not big enough for skating. So we expanded with some extra water and freezing.

MK: I saw one of the hashtags is the Kia Perfect 10. Is that part of a larger Kia campaign?

RW: The Perfect 10 is from when the grandfather drew the 10 on the window when Abigail finished her performance and it is the name of the spot.

We do stories about families. Last year’s Super Bowl commercial we did was the story of the Telluride and the father forgot the binky pacifier. And had to go home and get it quickly so the baby didn’t lose it at the resort.

I think when you’re talking to over 100 million people in a Super Bowl, you have to create a story that a big chunk of them can relate to. And I think definitely people can relate to these  father daughter and daughter grandfather relationships.

MK: How does Kia measure success with Super Bowl advertising?

RW: We’ve got a lot of different KPIs. we’re going to look to see what type of spike in traffic will get to our site. What type of spike in traffic goes to other shopping sites, auto sites. Not everyone’s going to come to Kia’s site, but that’s okay.

When they do come to our site, we look to see how many people are leaving some information for whether it’s us or a dealer to contact them. So a little deeper in the conversion funnel. We follow the competition and the USA Today AdMeter and YouTube AdBlitz.

Some of them are subjective and some of them, have some rationale behind them, but it’s always fun to see how people perceive ours versus other autos and other brands.

I will tell you that we showed the ad as a preview two times in the last week. I just flew back from Chicago for the Chicago Auto Show. At the end of the press conference where we introduced our new Carnival Hybrid and K5, I played the ad.

A lot of people come up to me and said wow that’s a really touching spot and it’s great. Unsolicited, I didn’t ask them. That’s nice of them to say that.

And then we played it a week before, as I mentioned, I was in Vegas. We had our national dealer convention. All the dealers from all over the country, all brands go there. We played it there. I had a couple of dealers come up to me afterwards. they’re like, yeah, I’m not crying, you’re crying. It brought a tear.

And I think it’s not just about bringing a tear. It’s about emotionally connecting with them. And I think that’s a good sign.

MK: Going back to the spike in traffic to the Kia site. How long do you guys generally see a spike after the Super Bowl? Is that a one-day thing or multi-day?

RW: This was our 15th Super Bowl spot. We took one year off and made a  donation in 2021.

The rest of the day, and the next week and we still see an increase of traffic for at least seven days before it starts to, normalize and it never really normalizes because we just made a hundred million people aware of this vehicle we’re talking about.

So they’re now telling others or they’re coming back 30 days later, they’re back in the market. it does create a new base level, so to speak that it never falls below, the long answer to your short question was probably about seven days, at least for a really large increase spike because people are still talking about the ads the next day,

MK: What’s your all time favorite Super Bowl ad?

RW: You know what? Apple recreated the whole computer business with the 1984 ad. It changed Apple’s trajectory you want to talk about doing something disruptive.

It gave a clear message and you barely. saw the product in it, That’s my all time favorite. You just gotta figure out what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish. The typical way of doing commercials is not the typical way you do Super Bowl commercials.

They take a little extra care and creativity.

MK: And my final question for you is, what was the first car you learned to drive on?

RW: My parents actually worked for a car company in Southern New Jersey called Subaru, and I drove in one of their company cars. It was a Subaru Brat, if you want to go way back.

A Subaru Brat was a mini pickup truck, but because they put two seats in the back bed, it was technically a passenger car. A lot of people called it a tax dodge because pickup trucks imported from outside the U. S. have a 25 percent tariff.

The Brat was made in Japan and by putting seats in the back, it was not a pickup truck. It was a passenger vehicle.

MK: That’s a pretty cool car to drive, quite a unique one.

RW: It was a great car to take to high school, Everyone loves riding in the back of a pickup truck, especially when there’s a couple seats that you can actually strap yourself into.

MK: That’s great. Are there any other things you wanted to share about this ad or about Kia that you think are worth mentioning?

RW: Yeah I think I talked briefly about it why are we advertising an electric vehicle? Everyone’s talking about electric vehicles, it’s slowing down. Has the growth rate stopped? No, it’s still growing.

Four years ago 1% of all cars were electric vehicles, then it was 3%, then it’s 5%, 7%. We’re up to 9%. we’ve had some of our biggest months in just in the last two months because EV9 went on sale.

So there’s people that want to buy EVs. 60 days before we started selling the EV9 in December we did a reservation program. We got a reservation, at least one, in all 50 states. EVs are not on the coast only, or just in the northwest.

People have desire for EVs everywhere. And we’re a brand that believes we’re going to help fulfill that. Other brands decide they’re concentrating in certain areas. We are committed to the national electrified space.

We’re investing in a plant the EV9 is even going to be made in at our West Point, Georgia location starting this summer. For the first five months it’s being made in Korea. But they are literally retooling the production line.

We have a little internal mantra of when people are thinking about buying an electric vehicle. They say, “I’m going to consider a Tesla and…” we want to be the next word after “and”. Tesla has over 50 percent market share, down from where it was at 80% because there are more choices now.

We’ve got three EV choices with our Niro, our EV6, and now our EV9. At CES, we had on display two other EV concept models our EV3 and EV4, showing what more affordable, EVs could be in the future. We’ve already said that by 2027, we’re going to have seven all electric vehicles in our lineup.

17 percent of our sales in January were electrified. That’s up 41 percent year over year.

Editorial note: Interview questions and answers were edited for clarity and to remove filler words.

2024 Kia EV9
2024 Kia EV9. Photo: Kia Media

Explore Kia’s website for the EV9 here: https://www.kia.com/us/en/ev9

Article Last Updated: February 12, 2024.

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