Why Kia Lied To Small-Town Residents About Super Bowl Commercial

February 08, 2019 by Sebastian Blanco, @SebastianBlanco

The star of Kia Motors America’s Super Bowl spot didn’t even know he would be in an ad for the new Telluride SUV until the Friday before the game. In fact, Kia kept the entire city of West Point, Ga., in the dark about just what the automaker was filming in the town where its North American production plant is located.

The ad features a young boy talking about rural life as one of the “great unknowns” and being respected for what they build instead of who they are.

“We wanted it to be a little bit more real,” said James Bell, Kia’s spokesman. “If you tell people you’re going to be in a Super Bowl ad, you might get a special performance from them, as opposed to who they are.”

The 90-second spot, called “Give It Everything,” was produced by the David & Goliath advertising agency. Aside from its airing during the game, the ad has been viewed over 7 million times on YouTube. To go along with the ad, David & Goliath also produced “Just A Small Georgia Town,” a five-minute video that plays like a mini-documentary but is also a Kia promotional clip.

The people in West Point, Ga., thought they were filming a documentary for Kia, whose Telluride is shown here. They were — but they also were filming a Super Bowl ad. (Photo: Kia)

Two weeks in Georgia

The David & Goliath production team spent about two weeks in West Point, filming location shots and conducting interviews with locals. They wanted to find people with interesting attitudes and who were “visually interesting,” Bell said. Those interviewed were told it was for a Kia video, just not for a Super Bowl ad.

“From talking to people down there, we knew there was some magic personalities and characters,” Bell said. “We just wanted to have that shine out as opposed to ‘I’m going to be in a Super Bowl ad!’ ”

The ad’s voiceover was performed by a 10-year-old boy named Korbin, Bell said.

Korbin was more excited about being flown to Kia’s office in Irvine, Calif., and getting an Apple Watch than being seen during the Super Bowl, he said.


So far, none of the locals has expressed any negative feelings about the video’s eventual destination, Bell said.

“We had some concerns about that,” he said. “But it went from being cool to be in a documentary to something bigger, as opposed to ‘Hey, we’re going to be in a Super Bowl ad’ to ‘Oh, we’re going to be in a documentary.’ It went in the right direction.”

Kia builds the Sorento SUV and the Optima midsize sedan in West Point and will soon start building the 2020 Telluride there. When the ad aired, Kia announced that money it could have spent on a celebrity endorsement would instead be turned into “The Great Unknowns” scholarship program. Applications for the $5,000 award are open to any legal residents of the U.S. who are under 24 and can be used at a college or vocational school. Kia will select 16 winners.

Read Next: 2019 Detroit Auto Show: Kia Telluride Finally Ready for Adventuring

3 Responses

  1. Chris

    I think I would like to get paid to be in a super bowl ad. Telling me im going to appear in a “documentary” I might appear for free. They even seem to acknowledge they should have been paid. If they had been celebrities, they would have been paid. Kia took advantage.

  2. Keith

    Loved the commercial. Have watched it numerous times. Makes me want to be a better person.

  3. Lisa Morgan

    My blue house was also in the commericial with the mechanic in drive way fixing on an old truck. People was asking me did I know my house would be in a commercial. I said know. Even doe i was very excited an surprise. People was asking me did i get paid to be in the super bowl commercial. I said no.


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