February 4th, 2015

While millions of fans tuned in to watch the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks go head to head in Super Bowl XLIX, brands took the battle off the field in a competition featuring some of the year's top creative ideas, celebrity cameos, clever copy and of course, spectacular effects. We're taking you beyond the concepts in our Super Bowl blog series featuring interviews with the creative minds responsible for several of the night's best spots.

David&Goliath teamed up with director Matthijs van Heijningen of MJZ to debut "The Perfect Getaway Vehicle" for Kia during Super Bowl XLIX. With a little help from the dashing Pierce Brosnan (formerly known as 007) and visual effects by The Mill, the spot marks the roll out of promotions for the 2016 Kia Sorento.

David&Goliath creative director/art director John O’Hea discusses the ad's action movie concept and celebrity talent, and how Kia and major brands approach creating an ad for the Big Game:

Take us through your process of coming up with the concept. What was the insight that sparked the idea?

The new Sorento was built to be more refined and more capable. It is at the center of adventure and getting out there. So we came up with the idea that the Kia Sorento is the perfect getaway vehicle. The perfect getaway, however, means different things to different people. To an action star like Pierce Brosnan, it means one thing, but to someone taking a beautiful drive up a mountain, it means something else, and that is where the fun started.

How did Pierce Brosnan’s role in the spot come about? How does his personal brand and history align with the qualities and features Kia sought to communicate with the ad?

Pierce was our favorite from the beginning because of his diverse roles. Although he is an icon for the action genre, he has also played some unexpected romantic comedy type of roles. So he is not only sophisticated and rugged, but also willing to have a little fun, making him the right choice.

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How did the ad change from the initial concept to the final version?

As with any spot you do, the initial idea evolves when you start production. When making the spot becomes a reality, you need to really find what works best, what the elements of the story that you really want to tell are.

We engaged Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. to direct the spot and he helped refine a vision—not too different from the original—that made us put in things and take out others. For example, there was a drone in the spot at one point and no girl at another point in the production. The actual idea, however, didn’t change much. The final version had just the right elements to tell the story and be entertaining to the viewer.

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Super Bowl ads are often emotional or funny. How did you tailor the smart humor in “Perfect Getaway” to fit the brand/product, as well as the event?

Kia as a brand is evolving quickly, becoming more sophisticated and refined with every new model. The advertising therefore needed to reflect this transformation. The work was intentionally made to be smarter, with high production value to make it worthy of a Super Bowl spot. Casting Pierce Brosnan was also not only perfect, but helped reinforce the idea.

How does creating an ad or campaign for the Super Bowl differ from a regular commercial?

It’s different in many ways. The Super Bowl makes people do bigger, better things. On this day huge numbers of people gather not just to watch football, but also to watch commercials. You have the largest TV audience in one place at one time and they are all sitting back, beer in hand, saying “wow me.”

The creative has to be stand out because you want to be a part of that conversation that begins well before the game and remains part of that Super Bowl long after. You need to take a lot of things into consideration—social media conversation, celebrity talent, music. You are looking for the biggest return on investment which these elements can help increase through earned media.

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What makes a great Super Bowl ad standout from the pack? And which past ad(s) are your favorite that achieve this?

There is obviously no one way that you are guaranteed to get the reaction from the audience that you want. Super Bowl tastes change every year and success is a moving target. Super Bowl or not, the usual way to get people to notice you is to do something smart, thought-provoking, or funny. Whatever you do for the big game has to stand out from a lot of spots, and in some cases, that has meant just adding a celebrity or production value to something smart, thought-provoking, or funny.

It is a tough question to answer because even some of the ones that stand out are the ones that run every year. They are given a fresh coat of humor or emotion and people fall in love all over again. My favorite is the spot where there was no spot because they didn’t use FedEx [We Apologize (1998)]. I wasn’t in advertising at the time and I loved it, and still do today because it is just smart.

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This is the 6th consecutive year that Kia is advertising during the Super Bowl. Beyond the live audience figures, what’s the draw of the Super Bowl for brands?

In a world where people connect with brands so differently than we used to, the Super Bowl is still the biggest event ever where people still gather around a TV and watch commercials. There is no other time in a commercial’s life where you have every segment of the population represented at once.

I also think that some brands are expected to be at the Super Bowl and people are waiting to see what you’ve got this year. I think we are becoming one of those brands, so it is a huge highlight of the year for us and, hopefully, the audience.

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In your opinion, how has the creative in Super Bowl ads evolved over the years? How do you think it will evolve over the next 5 years?

The creative has evolved so much and in so many different ways. Simply with the growth in popularity of the event, we have had to push the creative to stand out. With the evolution of filmmaking, the audiences are able to enter their own commercials and win a place in the big game. YouTube and social media have given spots life beyond their slot in the game. Some spots get pulled from the event but we can watch them online and they can still generate millions of views. What hasn’t changed is that the ad still has to be engaging, funny, or fresh.

I think for the next few years we will continue to see the type of commercials we see in the game now. We might see some evolution in the media opportunities, production and how they are shared. Ads will continue to evolve as how we watch the game evolves. Whatever happens, I hope it involves friends, beer, and football.

New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks? 

San Francisco 49ers

Find our more about the visual effects in the spot here.