Purpose At Work: How Kia Leverages Advertising For Impact

Today’s consuh Jacobs, Raiders running back, addressing his younger self. Jacobs grew up in Tulsa, Oklamers are bombarded with advertising. If your messaging doesn’t excite, intrigue, inspire or move your audience they will tune you out. To capture eyeballs and build consumer goodwill you must connect with people on an emotional level that goes deeper than financial transactions. Brands that utilize their marketing to make a positive impact gain earned media, word of mouth advertising and consumer attention.

Kia is a great example of a brand that’s leveraging its advertising for a higher purpose. Instead of showcasing slapstick humor or scantily clad women, the automobile maker is dedicating its Super Bowl spot to homeless youth.

The “Tough Never Quits” advert features Joshoma, where he suffered from poverty and was forced to live out of his car with his father.

“Sometimes I wonder what I would tell my younger self if I ever saw him”, the running back says “I’d tell him, ‘Josh, it’s going to be hard growing up homeless. But you’ve got to believe in yourself. Be tougher than the world around you.’”

Earlier this week, Kia released a similar spot called “I Run For.” Jacobs is depicted as a young boy on a podium addressing the press.

“I run for my pops, the man who sacrificed so much. I run for anyone who’s ever doubted me and for those out there living on white rice and ramen noodles….for those who think there is no light out there at the end of the tunnel,” the young Jacobs says.

Kia is walking its talk by backing the ads, which complement the brand’s “Give It Everything Ethos”, with the Yards Against Homelessness initiative. For every yard gained in the big match, Kia has committed to give $1,000 to improve the lives of the 4.2 million kids currently living on U.S. streets.

This year’s purposeful ads follow last year’s momentum. For the 2019 Super Bowl, the automobile manufacturer released The Great Unknowns campaign. By highlighting the lives of hardworking employees in their West Point, Georgia plant, the brand demonstrated its commitment to strengthening the U.S. economy. Instead of paying for celebrity endorsement, Kia connected the ad with scholarship opportunities for underprivileged youth.

Study’s show that when the price is the same, consumers favor businesses that make a positive impact over companies that work purely for profits sake. Millennials and Gen Z are especially supportive of social businesses. Kia is tapping into this younger demographic and connecting with them over shared values.

Kia’s purposeful leadership offers notable lessons for brands looking to scale impact and profits.

Here are top lessons from Kia on how to leverage advertising for impact:

Be the chief celebrant of your community:

Companies that shine a light on issues bigger than their brand or industry join cultural conversations. Rather than boasting about your own accomplishments, support others to share their stories. By showing how you contribute, you can position yourself as a key participant in the global effort to build a better world.

By focusing on homeless youth Kia is inviting consumers to engage in a conversation that impacts American society. It also gives people a reason to talk about Kia’s role in the fight against homelessness.

The takeaway here is that when you leverage your brand to share stories that matter, you deepen the bond between consumers and your company. In turn, you can scale the organic reach of your marketing initiatives and make a positive impact.

Connect storytelling with action:

Companies risk sounding disingenuous when they talk about social issues but don’t do anything to move them forward. To build a reputation around authenticity and transparency you must back your social good campaigns with measurable actions.

Yards Against Homelessness is an excellent example of how to marry storytelling with impact. What’s more, the car company is joining the Super Bowl conversation by raising the stakes of every play.

Essentially, actions speak louder than words. When you take initiative and contribute to cultural issues, you earn your license to join the conversation. The media and consumers will take notice and share your good deeds with others.

Collaborate around purpose:

No one company can solve all of the world’s problems. Be assured that there are other organizations working towards the same issues that your brand cares about. Reach out to nonprofits, government agencies and other companies to see how you can scale impact.

While Kia is driven to end the homeless epidemic, it is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, the brand is splitting its donations between 3 charities: Covenant House, Positive Impact and StandUp For Kids.

Contributing to organizations that work with the cause you support is a great way to establish trust amongst consumers. You also advance your mission, gain earned media and continue to focus on your core business.

The key takeaway is that conscious consumers are looking to support brands that contribute to society. When your advertising campaigns weave in social impact you foster emotional ties with consumers, turn eyeballs and make the world a better place.




Founder/CEO brand consultancy, We First, bestselling author of We First and Lead With We, host of podcast, Lead With We.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Giant screens in Times Square have been an icon of the advertising for the last 70 years.

What makes a great pitch?

Virtual Fashion and NFT Wearables — Interview with Kosta Williams

On starting.

Systeme.io Reviews: All the tools you need to grow your online business

Smiling Faces Make It Great

How a Trademark Protects Your Business

Developing your Go-To-Market strategy with users in mind!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Simon Mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring

Founder/CEO brand consultancy, We First, bestselling author of We First and Lead With We, host of podcast, Lead With We.

More from Medium

A sneak peak into the methodology behind Mental Model Diagrams

Follow extreme users! Product development advice from a researcher

Lötschenpass-hut, solar panels

Sustainability is Good Business

Sustainability is Good Business

Stakeholder, Owner, Client…how about a human?