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How Kia Engaged Gen Z through TikTok


The teams from Innocean Berlin and Kia Europe speak to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about allowing the Ghetto Trio to create their own content and the authenticity it delivered

How Kia Engaged Gen Z through TikTok

Tapping into the gen z market is not for the faint of heart. The cohort is infamous for celebrating authenticity and is known to be harsh when it comes to misplaced branding or sponsored content that doesn’t quite fit into a space. But this time, car brand Kia collaborated with Innocean Berlin and TikTok’s Ghetto Trio to create a collab which hit the nail on the head.

In an effort to engage with the generation which spends a fair amount of time gaming, the online trend of ‘video games in real life’ seemed to be the perfect way to incorporate the new Kia EV6 GT model into sponsored content. The trend in question features the Ghetto Trio (@dem_bruddaz on TikTok), who recreate video game characters and their movements in real life. With an uncanny ability to mimic the movements of characters, the group went viral and created a trend which many people across the world have seen.

Using the new KIA model within the space of this trend was a perfect fit as it blended into the world that the Ghetto Trio created, within car parks and on the streets where they live. With the reaction to the content garnering positive feedback and responses, it seems that Kia and the Innocean Berlin team were able to tap into this gen z market with the spot.

Speaking to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani are Innocean Berlin’s strategist Odile Breffa, creative director Jack Christensen, assistant director Paula Santos, copywriter Aitana Vallejo, and account director Travis Kim, and from Kia Europe, social media manager Jericho Dignadice. The teams shared the process behind the project. 

LBB> What was the starting point for Kia’s TikTok campaign? How did they want to showcase the EV6 GT?

Odile> We wanted to talk to the drivers of tomorrow, the gen zs, and we wanted to do it by showing how Kia can be a culturally relevant brand that inspires them, while also being relevant to gen z's needs, wants and interests to establish a brand perception they can share with their network. Kia wanted to showcase the EV6 GT in an authentic and unexpected way. The EV6 GT is quite unique in that it’s an electric car that’s also a performance car, so it deserved to be showcased in a unique way.

LBB> When did discussions surrounding a collaboration with the Ghetto Trio first get mentioned?

Jack> Once we had established the creative idea, it was important we joined an existing conversation and trend that would resonate with our target audience. Most of the team had seen the Ghetto Trio’s viral videos before, which confirmed to us their reach and appeal beyond gen z. They were the perfect match. They’re a crew of multidisciplinary artists: dancers, choreographers, models, actors, filmmakers, and DJs. A family where talent is combined in the plural, they’re unique and inspiring, and they deserve their popularity. We’re certain that they’re the perfect spokespeople for a brand aiming to inspire gen z.

LBB> How did you get the TikTok stars on board? What was the approach?

Paula> Luckily, they were big fans of the EV6 GT, so they were eager to jump on the project. We offered to collaborate with them as creators and involved them throughout the entire process, from reviewing the scripts together to choosing the music. Their input was essential when it came to planning the character movements, and it was actually one of the brothers who filmed the TikToks, the same way they usually produce their own content.

LBB> How did everyone on the team first come across the trend? And why do you think it resonates so well with the audience?

Aitana> Being gen z ourselves gave us a definite advantage when tackling this project. We already knew what trends and niches were popular on TikTok, so it was a matter of finding one that aligned with the product and the audience. Rewatching the Trio’s ‘videogame in real life’ videos, it almost felt like a car was missing from their videos. Building a video game around them driving and interacting with the EV6 GT was therefore a no-brainer. We also read through their fans’ comments, and many were asking for more video game content. To us, this was further proof that we were on the right track.

LBB> Why was it important to tap into this trend in particular and how does it align with Kia’s ‘Movement that Inspires’ brand ethos?

Jericho> A recent Deloitte study stated that 87% of gen z play video games at least weekly. It’s an environment that is familiar and relevant to them, and it allowed us to integrate the car into the content in an authentic and entertaining way. The EV6 GT became another important character in pursuing the ‘mission’, effectively anchored into the narrative. The Ghetto Trio are inspiring artists in their own right, they continuously inspire the world with their creativity and energy and teaming up with them ensured that the brand ethos of ‘Movement that inspires’ came across in a genuine way.

LBB> Is this the first time the client has wanted to create content for TikTok? How does the platform support brand advertising?

Odile> It was their first time doing content collaboratively with TikTok creators. We are currently testing and learning how to approach the platform on a European level. We didn’t want to do another campaign asset and push it with paid media. We wanted to create content that respects the codes and language of the channel. It’s branded entertainment, there is no CTA because our ultimate goal was to plug into TikTok culture, not to disrupt it.

LBB> How long did it take to create the choreography, film the project and release it on the social platform?

Travis> In total it was around two months from brief to delivery. The first step was selecting which product USPs we could feature in the film seamlessly to then define the game ‘mission’. We had collaborated with the talent on the scripts, so they already had in mind some video game movements to apply. Then we had a prep day to rehearse and adapt the choreography live according to the location and the car. Props, styling, and music were selected and discussed during the script build, which was vital to make the release happen in time, with only two weeks between the shoot and the release on TikTok. 

Aitana> We had a very limited time frame, so the work had to be reactive. Working with the Ghetto Trio has been a blessing because they immediately nailed the moves for us in a very organic way, matching the tone of voice of the mission. Ultimately, the key was to collaborate and respect each other’s creative freedom and find the right balance between the ad and the art.

LBB> What were some of the reactions to the post? Can you share any memorable responses with us?

Travis> We had some great reactions to the post, with comments like:

“Best ad I’ve ever seen 👏👏👏 well done I love your videos”, 

“This looks realer than life” 

“The fact y’all got sponsored and it looks good keep going!”. 

We believe this not only validates our choice of trend and talent, but also proves that we did a good job building brand familiarity among a new generation of drivers. 

LBB> Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Paula> We’re very excited to have started a new chapter with Kia developing content for TikTok. It’s a learning process and we’re still testing and trying, but the overall feedback for this project has been incredibly positive, so I’d say we’re off to a good start and looking forward to the challenge.

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INNOCEAN Berlin, Tue, 13 Dec 2022 14:02:00 GMT