Why one word totally ruined this commercial

Posted by David Zaleski on February 19th, 2013 at 6:00 am

I have a bone to pick with this Super Bowl commercial.

In case you missed it, KIA decided to drop between $4-8 million on a 1:16 minute ad which aired during Super Bowl XLVII. It probably had the most special effects, production value, and highest quality of any commercial that ran that day.

And in my opinion, KIA decided to completely ruin it all at 1:02.

Watch and see if you can tell what I'm talking about:

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The word little Jimmy was about to say before Harry Potter cut him off was, "sex."

Advertisers have been doing this for a while. They cut off a vaguely risqué punch line in a commercial for dramatic effect. Sometimes it works, like in this Jack in the Box commercial that ran during the same Super Bowl.

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This commercial made me and everyone around me laugh a lot.

Here's why KIA's didn't.

The people who made the KIA commercial must have been confused. They must have thought this was going to play during the Westminster Dog Show, with this crowd watching:

Grandma sure would have gotten a hearty, gut-busting laugh from that ending. Mom and Dad would have looked at each other like, "Oh dear!" Little Sally and Pete would have given a face like:

Then, they all would have let out a loud chuckle and proceeded to The Olive Garden for family breadstick night. They do it every Tuesday before "The Honeymooners" and President Eisenhower delivers his State of the Union.

Unfortunately for KIA, here's who was actually watching the Super Bowl.

I know because I'm one of them.

Yes, of course, there were some families watching the game, but c'mon. 99.99999999999

99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999993% of them were grown men screaming at their TV.

I was in a room (a big room) full of these people when this commercial came on. You know how many laughed when this commercial's "punch line" arrived?


And thanks to the special effects in the opening of the ad, they were watching it very closely too.

In fact, the silence was so deafening that I could hear all the men in America sigh under their breath as they munched on their chicken wings.

Personally, I was really into this commercial when it started. The effects are great, the concept is simple and clean, and the way it's produced is fantastic.

However, the commercial slammed on the brakes just when it was about to get really, really funny.

If this commercial had just said the word, "sex," I promise that everyone in that room would have exploded into laughter, especially if they cut back to this guy:

They would have had to rewrite the ending to promote the car, but I think a laugh was what they were going for.

I'm not a marketer. I'm not an expert. I don't know much. But what I do know is that I like mustard on my sandwiches. I like football. And because this ad ran during the Super Bowl, I'm assuming I was the target demographic for this commercial.

Everyone else in the room and I just pinched the bridge of our noses.

In fact, I conducted an extensive scientific study on the effect this had on football-watching men by calling by dad and asking.

Maybe I've got this wrong. Maybe KIA wanted to keep the commercial clean to be consistent with the wholesome, family tone of the Super Bowl. Let's look at some of these other hearty, family friendly moments.

Not to mention this Go Daddy ad which ran right before KIA's.

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Again, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this was not the intended audience:

The ultimate irony here is that KIA spent $4-8 million dollars, hundreds of hours of production, countless computers, editors, motion graphics artists, visual effects artists, special effects artists, sound mixers, composers, and marketers to ultimately create a comedy commercial that made no one laugh.

And you know what? They were one word away.

My point is that when the audience is right…

just go ahead and finish the punch line. I probably would have bought a KIA.

5 Responses to “Why one word totally ruined this commercial”

  1. Joe says:

    Completely disagree. If we're talking about a spot during a regular season game, I agree that almost 100% of their audience would be wing-eating men, and adding the word "sex" could have (not would have) improved it.
    The superbowl appeals to a much wider audience (I thought that was common knowledge)... and despite the rest of the material surrounding the superbowl that was threaded with sex (making it awkward for a guy watching the game with his family, I might add), I don't think marketers need to be as focused on it. GoDaddy was so far over the top they did themselves a disservice... among others (sex sells, soft porn doesn't). In my opinion, the best spots this year didn't even touch the subject of sex... it's refreshing. Just my opinion

    • David Zaleski says:

      Thank you for your respectful comment on my thoughts in this blog. I completely understand where you're coming from and you have a valid point to make. I appreciate you not being nasty toward my opinion

  2. Wayne says:

    By the way....the Go Daddy commercial was considered a huge success by the people at Go Daddy. Website traffic went off the charts and sales had a significant spike. Guess it reinforces the idea that any publicity can be good publicity.

  3. Greg says:

    Man. You're just a negative Nancy. You seem to hate or have a bone to pick with everything.

    This angle just makes you seem angry and extremely jealous of others success.

  4. Joe says:

    @Wayne - this is true, but isn't the point of such a large investment like a superbowl ad about long term brand development and sustainability? A spike in traffic and sales within a day or week of your spot is great, but Ameriquest saw the same results with their superbowl sponsorship...

    @greg - that's not true... I'm sorry you see it that way. My comments were certainly not meant to convey any anger or jealousy of anyone... just to stir the conversation a bit. What might have shown through, however, is my frustration with the obsession with sex in this society. I'm not turning this into a social discussion, but it's the reason we're in the state we're in. Again, sorry if I brought on the negative

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