Kia's Super Bowl effort nets $1 million for homeless youth

Automaker used the Super Bowl to tell story of NFL star Josh Jacobs, who lived in a car with his family.

Kia is donating $1 million to benefit homeless youth, as part of its Seltos Super Bowl launch.

The carmaker had pledged to donate $1,000 for every yard gained during the Kansas City Chiefs/San Francisco 49ers match-up and rounded up from the 748 yards gained to a cool one million.

The Kia Seltos spot, by David&Goliath, features Josh Jacobs, the Los Angeles Raiders running back, talking to his younger self about the hard road to the pros. Growing up, Jacobs lived in his car with his father and siblings.

The Yards Against Homelessness fundraising campaign marks the second year that Kia used the big stage of the Super Bowl to support a cause. 

In 2019, Kia’s "Great Unknowns" spot lauded the people of West Point, Georgia, where the Telluride is manufactured, and paired it with a scholarship program. As in this year’s Seltos spot, the Telluride was merely a backdrop to the bigger values’ message.   

"In today’s day and age you really need to connect with people in a way that goes beyond transactions," said David Angelo, founder and creative chairman od David&Goliath in El Segundo, Calif. "There is no better way to do that than to embrace your inner truth as a brand and connect with people who share those values."

There’s a long-term campaign in place, too. Kia is trying to bridge the perception gap between winning multiple awards and lingering opinions about quality. The Telluride recently picked up three of the industry’s most prestigious car-of-the-year awards, including MotorTrend’s SUV of the year.

"Building a brand and correcting perception is one of the main goals of the Super Bowl," said Angelo. "People know Kia is making better cars, yet there is still the old perception of the brand."

The automaker and agency decided to first tell the story of the people who are making Kias, spotlighting the West Point plant, using the brand tagline, "Give It Everything."

"The town went from being on the brink of extinction (prior to the Kia plant) to being featured on the Super Bowl," said Angelo. "This year, we wanted to demonstrate the spirit of the people who drive the car. Josh Jacobs, who was living out of a car with his father and four siblings, demonstrated that same journey of never giving up on dreams."

Kia continues to leverage the positioning of being a challenger brand, a striver much akin to the beneficiaries of the nonprofits it supports. "It comes down to action," said Angelo. "That is the secret sauce."

The three nonprofits that will benefit from the $1 million donation are Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp for Kids.  

"One million dollars certainly won’t solve youth homelessness, but it’s a start," said Russell Wager, director, marketing operations at Kia Motors America, in a statement. "Kia was honored to share Josh Jacobs’ inspirational story on advertising’s biggest stage, and the increased Yards Against Homelessness donation reflects Kia’s commitment to America’s youth and our admiration for those who give it everything in pursuit of their dreams."

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