CMO Q&A: Michael Sprague, VP of marcomms, Kia Motors America

Alexandra Bruell talks to Michael Sprague, VP of marcomms at Kia Motors America, about some recent changes to its marketing approach

CMO Q&A: Michael Sprague, VP of marcomms, Kia Motors America
Kia positioned itself as a sporty and youthful alternative in 2005. Tell me about your positioning today.

With the recession over the past two years, we were well positioned for consumers seeking more value. At the same time, we were fortunate to be launching new products.

It started with our Soul. We followed that with the Forte, Forte Coup, all-new Crossover, the Sportage this past August, and we're getting ready to launch another new product - the Optima. With six new products in a year and a half, they're all still maintaining our value positioning, but with really great design.

Is there an integrated campaign in place for the Optima?

Yes. It will touch traditional television, cinema, PR, experiential, digital, mobile, print, out-of-home. It will be everywhere.

What's the company's investment in social media and PR?

PR plays a huge role. For us, it used to be more traditional, reaching out to auto journalists. Now, when we do a media event, we're inviting traditional, lifestyle, and tech journalists, as well as bloggers. Somebody might not necessarily be looking for an auto article, but they might be interested in a new technology in one of our vehicles.

We're on Facebook, Twitter, and do a lot of experiential events. We did one called the Soul Collective last summer. It was in 10 cities with up- and-coming bands. We invited our target audience to come and test-drive a vehicle. That generated a lot of publicity.

Any external trends impacting your approach?

Technology impacts us a great deal. We're introducing a new voice-activated technology called Uvo, powered by Microsoft. It allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and still access electronic devices.

Just because somebody's holed up in a vehicle doesn't mean they want to be shut off from the rest of the world. It's just the opposite, particularly among Millennials.

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