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Kia revs up mobile-first influencer platform to fuel Super Bowl advertising

Kia is driving anticipation for its Super Bowl ad with a social influencer-supported campaign that uses IBM Watson's platform to go beyond standard metrics of choosing participants in favor of harder-to-quantify qualities such as personality.

Kia tapped into IBM Watson?s Personality Insights API to identify the best-fitting social influencers for its #AddPizzazz campaign, which is meant to drum up excitement for the brand?s upcoming commercial featuring actor Christopher Walken. As anticipation for Super Bowl marketing techniques hits a fever pitch, the brands that are preceding their television ads with strong pushes on social media will have a leg up on their competitors this year.

?The Super Bowl these days is not just about the Sunday game and the ads that go with it,? said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Kia Motors America, Irvine, CA. ?What we?re trying to do is amplify the campaign early on, and then post-Super Bowl.

?We were one of the first brands to introduce our Super Bowl ad prior to the game. We know a lot of other people out there are not sitting around watching the game, but are interested in watching the ads.?

Jump-starting social tactics
To ramp up interest for the Super Bowl commercial starring Christopher Walken, Kia sought to have a strong undercurrent of social media strategy running throughout its campaign. Kia is the first marketer to leverage a technology platform from Influential, which uses IBM Watson to forge connections between brands and influencers in the social sphere.

Kia tapped Influential, as well as IBM Watson?s Personality Insights API, to cherry-pick the most relevant influencers to post content relating to the #AddPizzazz campaign. Influential analyzed unstructured data from influencers? social feeds to best identify the right fit for Kia?s marketing tactics.

The metrics included consumers? perception of the influencers, and how well their personalities complemented the personality of the brand.

Once campaign participants were selected, nearly 100 received a pair of the Stance socks featured in Kia?s ?Walken Closet? Super Bowl spot. They were then instructed to demonstrate to their followers how they added pizzazz to their lives via social media posts.

Kia later aggregated these posts on its mobile-optimized Tumblr page, transforming it into a one-stop destination for all things campaign-related. Consumers can discover the content and share it with their networks with the tap of a finger.

Social media talent agency Niche and apparel marketer Stance also chose several influencers for the campaign.

Stance is no stranger to leveraging social mavens to promote its products. In December, it tapped the popularity of user-generated content on Instagram by identifying several influencers to boost interest in a new product launch, which segued into a mobile contest (see story).

?At ReadyPulse, we see successful brands moving from a campaign-based marketing strategy to an always-on marketing strategy, and as such effective marketers are leveraging social influencers that are authentic to their brand vs. paid per campaigns,? said Dennis O'Malley, CEO of ReadyPulse, San Carlos, CA.

?Social media users are savvy ? and they will quickly fact-check if Kia is paying influencers, vs. social media influencers who are true brand fans of Kia,? he said. ?We'd recommend all brands build their own influencer programs and own influencers, vs. renting influencers for campaigns through third parties.?

Opening the Walken Closet
Kia has also released an extended cut of its forthcoming Super Bowl spot, titled ?Walken Closet,? on YouTube. The commercial features Mr. Walken sitting in a couple?s walk-in closet, dispersing advice about beige socks versus their colored counterparts before revealing a brand-new Kia Optima behind him.

Consumers may watch the ad on their mobile devices ahead of Sunday?s game.

The car manufacturer initially rolled out a Christopher Walken-centered campaign in January as it steadily built up buzz leading up to the Super Bowl. Kia used Mr. Walken?s voiceover in the new 2016 Optima commercial, which immediately resulted in social media chatter, as viewers tried to determine if it was in fact Mr. Walken?s voice.

The brand did not issue a press release prior to releasing the spot. Rather, it waited until a week had passed and until consumers had effectively spread word of the ad by themselves.

?Having Christopher Walken in the spot is really resonating with consumers of all demographics,? Kia?s Mr. Sprague said.

Kia also released a 15-second teaser for the Super Bowl spot last week to kick anticipation up a notch.

The vehicle marketer claims mobile is paramount in its marketing efforts, which prompted it to employ such an extensive social media campaign before one of the nation?s biggest sporting ? and advertising ? events.

?[Leveraging mobile is] very important,? Mr. Sprague said. ?The use of mobile continues to grow every year. We can see an instantaneous reaction to the spot, like someone putting a Tweet out or responding on YouTube.

?We see their commentary, but then we also see them going to, which is mobile-enabled.?