automotive advertising


What: Eugene Santos, Senior Manager, Advertising & Marketing, Multicultural at Kia Motors gave Portada his 4 key insights on automotive brand marketing and how to win Hispanics’ hearts.
Why it matters: It’s no secret that Hispanics love a good car. The auto industry in the U.S. is growing, just as well as the multicultural population in the U.S. According to a Statista timeline, digital advertising spending of the U.S. automotive industry is expected to reach US $15.5 billion this year.


Automotive brand marketing is just like marketing in any other industry. In order to get it right, marketers need to approach it with the right set of tools and a great deal of creativity. Add a multicultural component to the mix, and you’ll get a more complicated task. However, if brands take the time to really understand the target and the way consumers relate to the category, they might end up getting a recipe to success.

Eugene Santos

When the 2018 Kia Rio was named one of the top 10 best vehicles for Hispanics by the Hispanic Motor Press Foundation, the company had already been targeting this multicultural segment for years. However, Kia Motors only started selling cars in the U.S. in the 90’s. How does a relatively new brand compete with powerhouses of the automotive industry in order to gain Hispanics’ hearts?

We talked to Eugene Santos, Senior Manager, Advertising & Marketing, Multicultural at Kia Motors to get his key insights about what the brand is planning to engage Hispanic consumers more effectively.


We use AI to engage consumers who are in the ‘discovery’ and ‘research phases of their consumer journey.

1. Automotive Brand Marketing 101: Make Sure You Engage Your Consumers

Firstly, says Eugene Santos, you have to ensure you understand how your consumers engage with your content. Like any other brand, Kia uses a mix of KPI’s and likes/dislikes ratios, but it is also aware of the important role of the right technologies. “We use AI to engage consumers who are in the ‘discovery’ and ‘research phases of their consumer journey,” explains Santos. ” This gives us an opportunity to look at the multicultural aspect as well.”


2. When Targeting Hispanics, Always Think In-Culture

According to Kia’s latest reports, sales grew 1% in May, mostly thanks to a rise in sales of a favorite of Hispanics— the Kia Soul. “Hispanics are a big part of our success, especially in a flat market,” reveals Santos. “The multicultural segment growth has allowed us to stay on pace or ahead of business plans. The Soul has traditionally over-indexed within the Hispanic segment. It tends to skew towards a younger audience and mirrors the demographics of the Hispanic consumer.”

Kia Soul - Automotive Brand Marketing Case StudyTherefore, these results show the brand is already doing something right. When asked about the approach Kia takes when marketing to Hispanics, Santos hits the nail in the head. “We don’t like to approach this segment by thinking ‘Spanish or English’? But rather, ‘How do we communicate in-culture? And that can be a combination of either language as it relates to our target audience and the look/feel of our campaign.”



3. Choose the Right Message, Make it Emotional

When asked about messaging, Santos explains that the brand continuously tries to build an emotional connection with the Hispanic segment. The new campaign will “tell the story of the ‘unsung heroes’ who work hard to accomplish their life’s mission but don’t necessarily crave the spotlight.” Kia has previously incorporated into their narrative real stories of hard-working Latinos (watch below). Santos says “this will bring a connection Hispanic consumers by showing Kia lives by the same values as them.”

4. Learn From Your (More Experienced) Competitors

In 2017, Dealer Marketing Magazine reported that vehicle purchases by Hispanics would double from 2010 to 2020. Because of tradition from their origin countries, Hispanics have a famous fondness for Japanese cars. In fact, in 2014, Hispanics were contributing to nearly 40% and 30% of total brand growth for Toyota and Nissan, respectively.

Thus, we wanted to know Santos’s thoughts on how the relatively new player from Korea competes with these brands. “They’ve been communicating with the Hispanic segment for a very long time, longer than Kia,” agrees Santos. “I started my automotive career at Honda, and having seen their work ethic first hand, I am proud to say that Kia is on its way.”

But what sets Kia apart? Its “Give it Everything” philosophy, that “underdog spirit that has helped us improve our vehicle quality, and technology that has allowed us to outperform even luxury brands,” shares Santos.

In conclusion, Kia is young, but it is on the right track towards Hispanics’ hearts. To find out more about automotive brand marketing first-hand from the experts, join Portada New York!




NBCUniversal announces CultureFirst, the IAB hosts a multicultural town hall, Hispanics could drive auto sales, while the New York Times examines what makes multicultural TV shows relevant to all.

Universality Is Key to Crossover Appeal of TV Programs

jane-the-virginThe Hispanic audience is fragmenting along with all other TV audiences, as a plethora of over-the-top video choices wear down television’s mass appeal. In this landscape, TV shows should aim beyond Latin-centric characters and themes, according to a New York Times article. A case in point is the critically acclaimed Jane the Virgin, which has garnered respectable audiences across cultures. The reason, according to the article, is “it captured the essence of the culture without banging it over people’s heads.” While Jane and her family are Hispanic, the Times notes, it’s “built around a mother-daughter-grandmother dynamic that could translate to other races and ethnicities: ‘It’s just a girl who wants a dream to come true.'”

TuYo Enters OTT Market

TuYoHispanic digital entertainment TuYo, led by Jenni Rivera and “I Love Jenni” producer Peter Salgado will launch in July, according to VideoInk. The digital channel will include free, ad-supported programming as well as paid, on-demand offerings in Spanish and English. A wide mix of programs includes series, documentaries, movies, sports, reality, gaming, news and music. Content partners include Latin World Entertainment, World of Wonder, VIP 2000, Dhana Media and Great Glass Productions.

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NBCU Upfront Pitches Targeting via Culture

NBC Universal’s Upfront presentation included the unveiling of CultureFirst, a new way of targeting Hispanic consumers via cultural traits instead of language. . It also announced NBC Deportes, which will produce sports content for Telemundo and NBC Universo, as well as its digital properties, with offerings to include FIFA World Cup, NASCAR and Olympic qualifiers. League, NFL and NASCAR. And, in a play to capture the interest of Hispennials, NBCUniversal Hispanic Group said it would do whizzy new things like dual-screen storytelling and an interactive comic book series. It also made a deal with Defy Media to create new content across platforms, centered on Defy’s Clevver TeVe, a Spanish-language YouTube channel covering fashion, music and lifestyles with a millennial focus.

IAB’s Town Hall to Promote Digital for Multicultural

In the IAB Blog, Jessica Ramirez spelled out 8 things marketers should know about Hispanics. Those eight will be familiar to anyone working in the Hispanic market, but the post also serves as an invitation to the IAB’s Multicultural Creative Town Hall to be held May 27 in New York. Ramirez notes that multicultural spending still lags population growth; the town hall may give agencies and publishers more ammunition.

Hispanics to Drive Growth in Car Sales

toyota hispanicAccording to Automotive News, Hispanic consumers could be the auto industry’s leading growth engine for the next 20 to 30 years. The article includes stats from Polk Automotive that Hispanic buyers delivered 96 percent of Ford and Chevrolet’s combined year-over-year retail sales growth, 33 percent of Nissan’s, 35 percent of Toyota’s and 100 percent of Honda’s. Wow. While a lot of car companies’ efforts are going to helping local car dealerships better serve the variety of Hispanic and Latin consumers coming through their doors, it’s also good news for Hispanic media, with Hispanic advertising becoming an important part of new-vehicle launches.

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