Tough Never Quits: David&Goliath for Kia

We knew much of the Super Bowl would be star-studded and wacky. To stand out, it helps to be different.


Mark Koelfgen
Executive Creative Director David&Goliath

El Segundo, 美国
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Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

My name is Mark Koelfgen. I'm the ECD on Kia. I oversee all creative development on the business.


Having quite a few years and Super Bowls under your belt together, can you tell us a bit about the relationship between Kia and D&G?

Kia and D&G share an adventurous spirit. After all we are both challenger brands. We're disciplined in our thinking.  But we never let that suffocate creative impulse. The relationship is honest and unfiltered on both sides. We wouldn't have it any other way.  But neither Kia or D&G believes in hiring people who are not in alignment with a philosophy we follow at the agency which is ‘serve the brand, the rest will follow.’ There’s a mutual respect and expectation that we’ll be nothing but honest with one another and lead with the brand’s authentic truth. I always think that's the indication of a good client/agency relationship. Also, we laugh a lot together. And like to have fun.


This ad marks Kia’s 11th straight Super Bowl appearance. Did that put any additional pressure on D&G?

I wouldn’t call it pressure, but rather an excitement to create the most authentic and impactful campaign possible. At D&G we live by the credo of "all in...all the time." There is no cruise control setting on our thinking. We re-work and question everything until the last second. (And sometimes after that.) We have a good mix of people who've worked on Kia for a long time. And some who are very new to Kia. That tends to keep the thinking fresh. While making sure it's not misguided.


How does it feel to work with a client that’s willing to take a moment like this and use it to highlight on a cause? When was it decided to make this spot focus on youth homelessness?

When we learned that Kia was going to commit a million dollars to combat youth homelessness, you practically had to peel us off the ceiling. To be part of a movement that tackles this issue with force feels unreal. There are so many cynical brands out there. But not Kia. Josh's story was the seed. When we started digging, some gut-wrenching statistics came to our attention. More than 4 million kids experience periods of homelessness. Kia's a young brand. With young buyers. If you want to matter to them, you've got to align your behavior with your message. Give It Everything is not a half-hearted ethos. It demands significant commitment behind the words and pictures.


This year’s Super Bowl work is once again taking a more serious tone. Why the shift from the more lighthearted spots? 

At the end of the day, our tone can't be in conflict with our brand story.

When Kia started to top pretty much every quality list, it became clear we had to reevaluate how we communicate. Quality is not a broad, silly overture. It's more of an obsession. And that's serious stuff. In some ways, Kia's journey has been analogous to Josh's own journey. So his story resonated immediately with us. But there's also the zig-when-they-zag spirit to what we do. We knew much of the Super Bowl would be star-studded and wacky. To stand out, it helps to be different.


From the preview this ad seems to be pulling some inspiration from athletes using their platform for more than sports. What was the inspiration for this work and who are you hoping for the message to resonate with?

There's an article we cite every now and then. It was one of those "Brands That Will Be Out of Business Within a Year" type of articles. It was written ages ago. But at the top of the list was "Kia"! Right then and there we turned up the volume on our challenger spirit. Nothing was on our side. And nobody thought we'd succeed. That can either crush you. Or galvanize you. For Kia and D&G it became our rocket fuel. That's why we love underdog stories. In a tangential way, we see our own struggle in the inspiring stories of others. Honestly, we're hoping the message will resonate with everyone. A hard-hearted person can dismiss homeless adults as complicit in their situation. But nobody looks at a homeless kid and thinks—"Well, they got what they deserved."


Do you have a personal ritual or superstition, that you follow the day of the Super Bowl?

We're very superstitious about criticizing anyone else's Super Bowl ad. David thinks it's bad luck and won't allow it! So we try to say only nice things.


What did you think of the Super Bowl ads overall this year, compared to recent years and did you have a personal favorite, outside of your agency’s spot?

It felt like there was an real uptick this year. Some very fresh thinking after a few years of drought. The ad that got us all talking was Google. It really punched us in the heart. It's one of those ads that would be so easy to get wrong in about a million different ways. And be written off as exploitation. But there's a delicate touch to it that just works. Someone asked Dan Wieden what the role of advertising was once. His answer was something like "Just make me feel something dude!" I couldn't agree more. And Google nailed it.