Events / Product

Soul debut at LA International Auto Show November 25th, 2008

By Alex Fedorak
Director, Public Relations, Kia Motors America

More than 450 media and guests attended the North American debut of the Soul this past Thursday, November 20th at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.  Thursday was the second day of the media preview and a pall was cast over the show with all the activities in Washington D.C. and the Big 3.  Next to the Kia booth was the abandoned Chrysler display, which featured vehicles but no auxiliary lighting or even staff; it was a very gloomy scene overall.

In this setting, KMA embarked on their own press conference and dazzled all those in attendance with its fun, clever and interesting Soul debut.  Since the Soul had already been show in Paris earlier this year the KMA PR team decided to focus on demonstrating its knowledge on how to market and sell to the exciting Soul to the Gen Y audience.

A press conference was created that featured V.P. Sales Tom Loveless talking about the Soul while his twin college-age children instant messaged each other on a screen behind him, both poking fun at their dad while admiring the car.  Using IM-speak, the Loveless twins were the hit of the conference and helped prove the point that even though their father was not Gen Y he understood Gen Y because they lived with him.

From there Michael Sprague, V.P. marketing, introduced something KMA calls “Soul cards,” which are essentially postcards depicting artistic, Gen-Y lifestyle images of the Soul.  These cards also featured cutting-edge barcode technology that when scanned with a camera phone linked the user to a mobile microsite about Soul.

Tom Kearns, chief designer for KMA, then came to center stage to talk about how the Soul evolved from a concept to a real live production vehicle.  He did this with the aid of Mike Torpey, who drew the original sketch of the Soul.  Mike’s appearance, however, was in a YouTube video that showed not only the character of the car but also the artist. Check out the video.

To close out the energetic press conference KMA had another surprise up its sleeve.  While Loveless and Kearns started to close out the press conference, behind them a “whooshing” noise could be heard and a large silver Mylar balloon started to inflate so that by the time the press conference concluded it appeared fully inflated as the Soul logo.

Comments from the press were not only favorable for the car, which was universally well liked, but also for the creative and current-with-the-times press conference.  More than one journalist deemed it “Best of Show.”  And all loved the special neon-green USB bracelet press kit that KMA created especially for the show.  More than 850 were given out in just a couple of hours.

With 12 Soul vehicles on display shown in different colors and graphic packages, the press left the Kia press conference with an impression that not only is Soul a fun and energetic car but so is the brand Kia Motors

  • Mike Torpey’s facial hair looks pretty cool!

  • So, finally Soul in LA. Too bad the auto industry climate is too cold. Do you think people can fine their new and bright soul from Soul? Specially in America? I remember Scion from Toyota. Probably Soul needs to be viewed as more of a Consumer product rather than a car. Hire people who have been selling hair gel to sell Soul. They will understand.

  • Pamela (Korea)

    Thanks Ryan… good comment about a new way to approach selling the Soul. In fact, that’s something that has been talked a lot about internally. Because the Soul is such a distinct car, and one that means so much to our entire Kia family, we have also envisioned it being sold differently.

    In a recent interview, Gregory Guillaume (head of Europe Design) said that he envisions people finally waking up in the morning and saying that they want that Kia they’ve always been thinking about – not because of its price, but because they just have to have it! For us, the Soul is about that – appealing to people’s emotions and having them feel connected to the urban crossover, hence its great customization options for the young-at-heart.

    A hair gel salesperson, though? Um… maybe not the type of “stick” we were after, but I think you’re on the right track with the consumer product approach! :)

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  • that is sooo tight…

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  • Alex

    Does anyone know if the NEW CERATO is going on sale in Europe or not?

  • Hi Alex,

    Well, it goes on sale in Russia. Other regions in Europe won’t have it.

  • mike

    I just ordered my soul burner. It should be here in a week, I hope its all that!!!

  • Murr

    I would very very good thanks a lot Thanks Thanks