Subconscious Influence in Super Bowl Ads – Part 4 (KIA)

The next three commercials we will discuss are particularly interesting because they attempt to rebrand their product. Clearly, heavy lifting is required to create new associations and feelings in you within the short ad space of one minute or less.

Link to KIA ad

Our current associations with KIA are not flattering. Let’s be honest. It is an economy car that is bought by below average income-earners. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. It is just their niche which they have happily been filling, until now.

I can just imagine the daunted look of KIA’s advertising agency when they were told they have to sell a luxury car. We automatically distrust the association like we would distrust Penzoil-branded taco meat. “KIA” and “luxury” don’t properly belong in the same sentence or anywhere else in the real world. Therein lies KIA’s clever trick. We just might possibly accept it if we are placed in a world where logic is suspended, where everything you know is turned on its head, a world where you can’t trust what your lying eyes are telling you. Such a world is that crafted in the Matrix.

The strategy is to invoke the world of the Matrix and then submerge us in it. If KIA reveals that the luxury car is theirs too soon, we will reject it. They need to put us deep into the Matrix first. As a hypnotist whose job is to lead clients into further levels of trance, I found KIA’s approach interesting.

We first need to enter the Matrix from our regular world. Dropping us into it immediately would be too abrupt for the new association to set in. Morpheus reprises his famous blue pill/red pill scene in the commercial with red and blue keys. “It is the world of luxury that has been pulled over your eyes,” he cautions a couple. They opt for the red key, and as soon as we see them get in the luxury car, we are in the world of the Matrix. This is reinforced when the driver says in disbelief, “This is unreal” while Matrixy reality-warping noises play subtly in the background.

As the viewer, we are only shallowly in the Matrix. The people in the car are fully in it already. To get us viewers into the deep end of the pool where our toes can’t touch ground anymore, KIA uses techniques similar to a hypnotic induction that leads to trance. They have Morpheus begin to tool with your senses: sight, touch, and sound. By leading people on a journey through their senses, they are much more likely to accept suggestions given to them.

“This is what luxury looks like,” Morpheus informs us as he gestures inside the car. There is a bit of magic in the camera shot here. The windshield through which the shot is taken has city lights strolling across it. Aesthetically, it is nice, but it partially obscures the passengers and it draws attention away from the dialogue. Surely, this apparent flub wasn’t accidental in this $8 million commercial. KIA is using a technique news networks have discovered in recent years. Perhaps you may have noticed that they bob or sail the camera around in a certain way or that they render a digital American flag waving just so in the background. When they do this, you may have noticed how difficult it is to look away. It is engrossing, nay, entrancing. Once in trance, suggestions tend to stick better.

“This is what luxury feels like” Morhpeus tells us in the slightly longer version of the commerical not aired during the Super Bowl.* (At about $66,000 a second, KIA needed to shave a few precious moments from the film. I’m including discussion of the unaired parts because they relate to KIA’s deepening technique). Morpheus slowly strokes the seat in a way where we can really be there with him, feeling the fine contours and texture of the seat along with him.

“This is what luxury sounds like,” Morpheus leads us. He then begins to sing opera. Morpheus has now hit upon all the senses a hypnotist would in an induction that leads to trance. While he continues to sing, we are taken even deeper into the world of the Matrix. As they pass a shop window, we see two”agents” inside activate and become concerned about the luxury car. In the extended commercial, we are taken even further. A young woman in a red dress is shown sitting at a diner, invoking a scene from the movie remembered well by young boys. As she brings her spoon up to her mouth, it begins to melt and bend. Notice how the Matrix references come much harder and quicker after they finished the sense induction. It is at this point, during Morpheus’ operatic crescendo, that cars start lifting off the street to float in the air while streetlights explode like sparklers on the 4th of July. We now have fully arrived in the Matrix

Full arrival in this magical world means that we, the viewer, can be shown things we shouldn’t believe, and we will accept the association. It should be no surprise then that finally we see the KIA logo displayed prominently. We are finally told that KIA does in fact have a luxury car.

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