Guerrilla Automotive Marketing

October 10, 2012
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Guerilla Automotive Advertising

Comic spokes-caveman for Hatfield Kia, [tooltip title=”” content=”Sonic Automotive Dealer (SAH NYSE) is a Fortune 500 company and is one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States. Sonic Automotive operates over 100 dealerships in 15 states and 26 major metropolitan areas. Sonic sells over 30 different makes with an emphasis on luxury and imported brands.” type=”classic”]a unit of the Sonic Automotive Group[/tooltip], Kia Kong made an unplanned stop at Easton Town Center on Friday.

The local headline could’ve read: Kia Kong Sighted in Columbus, Ohio! The tabloids might’ve responded with: Shy But Jealous Bigfoot Announces Own Tour!

Comic spokes-caveman for Hatfield Kia, Kia Kong made an unplanned stop at Easton Town Center on Friday, Sept. 28 for a bit of guerrilla marketing. Attracting several hundred passersby, and ready to hand out autographs and stand with fans for photos, Kia Kong, AKA [tooltip title=”” content=”Tim Parker, resident of Cape Canaveral, Florida is a former professional wrestler. He currently runs his own computer networking company, and does Kia Kong as a sideline.” type=”classic”]Tim Parker[/tooltip], of Cape Canaveral, Florida was having a fun time with the fans. But before too long, mall officials decided that the fan crowd had grown too big and had to disperse the gathering.

The following day he appeared at the dealership with his trademark club attired in his saber-toothed tiger skin (or as they say, in-character) for the event. Visitors were urged to drop by, get autographs, take pictures, and audition to appear in a future TV spot with Kia Kong. To make the days event a little extra special, was a fund raising promotion for the local Make-A-Wish foundation. For every vehicle sold on Saturday, Make-A-Wish would receive one hundred dollars, and Ryan Belcher General Manager was pleased to report that ten vehicles were sold and he would be sending a one thousand dollar check to the charity.

The Back Story

Who and what is Kia Kong?

Kia Kong is the comic spokes-hominid for Hatfield Kia. He’s un-subtle, he’s in your face, but always non-threatening, got a goofy voice, and as odd as he may seem, he’s nearly as endearing. In short, a lot of people really like him.

If you haven’t seen the intentionally campy and wacky campaign, we can tell you one thing sometimes you never know what’ll catch on and what won’t. That’s what creative risk is all about.

There’s more than one way to sell a car, and when it comes to selecting a personality to identify the dealership, most go with the standard approaches to fix their local positioning and image; the perky, fun energetic guy/girl next door, the sincere and wise uncle, luxury brand dealers like British- sounding accents or the resonance of a Donald Sutherland; all good choices and fairly predictable, not so with Hatfield Kia, they took a risk.

Kia Kong has been on the airways in the Columbus, Ohio market for about 6 months. In one of the earlier spots he’s presented as the new sales manager of the store, immediately establishing a lighthearted rapport with the audience. The fact that he got so much attention at the mall is proof positive.

Phenomenal Batting Numbers

Kia Kong is hitting it out of Bedrock with his club.

Why does it work? Sometimes it’s best not to ask, but here goes: With Kia Kong, the dealership comes across as a fun-loving bunch; a group of regular guys and gals who (obviously) do not take themselves too seriously, basically relaxed confident people, without any airs about what they do. As human nature dictates, many people like that sort of thing and are attracted to it because it’s not intimidating, people think it could be fun!

Always be mindful that it takes a great staff to make it work, Kia Kong sets the stage for the experience, but it’s the store associates who carry the weight. Don’t prepare prospects for fun and then send out Buzz Killjoy to be your greeter, and don’t forget the life-size, stand-up, die-cut character in the showroom.

Meanwhile, competitor’s market share in the Columbus APR are in the negatives, and despite a down local market, Hatfield Kia has enjoyed a 4 point increase in market share with sales up nearly 40% over the previous year to date. Huh? That’s right, Hatfield Kia is up nearly 40% over last year!

 

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