• Feb 13, 2008
Next Monday is President's Day, and a lot of workers will get the day off. Some other employees, like former Kia execs Len Hunt, CEO of Kia Motors America, and Ian Beavis, VP of marketing, will have more than just the day off: they recently ended their employment with Kia over what's being portrayed as a case of humor that got lost in translation.

To promote its President's Day sale, the company ran an ad featuring "unheard of" President Millard Fillmore, "best remembered as the first president to have a running-water bathtub." Cue the segue into the "unheard of" deals that Kia dealers would be offering during the long weekend. And to commemorate the event and the president, Kia made soap-on-a-rope busts of Mr. Fillmore, some of which were handed out during a press event at the Chicago Auto Show. And, uh... yeah... that's it. Unheard-of president, unheard-of deals, and soap.

But Byung Mo Ahn, chairman and group CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia -- and the man who hired and promoted Len Hunt -- apparently didn't find the soap-on-a-rope commercial that funny. Word is that Ahn wants more serious commercials focusing on Kia's quality. So even though Hunt and Beavis presided over a solid sales story and growing brand awareness, and Hunt was especially well-liked by dealers, the two men are now probably on their way to other automakers. And Kia commercials are about to get very boring. Our sympathies to Hunt and Beavis, yet if nothing else, at least now Millard Fillmore has another claim to fame. Thanks for the tip, Keith!

[Source: Ad Age]


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  • 46 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Word is that Ahn wants more serious commercials focusing on Kia's quality. The mini-vans are the closest to each other.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I knew something would go wrong with that commercial.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Kia's loss. Why would anyone in the U.S. think of Kia unless we're jolted into recognizing them. The Filmore ads are excellent and broke Kia out of the expected car-on-road pack. The "Maniac" spot was amazing too. You can't logic your way into peoples' hearts. When I see in future a Kia commercial talking about their features, my thumb will be quickly changing channels on the remote.

      I hope their ad agency - who will likely take the fall for this too- finds a brand who deserves them, Kia obviously doesn't get it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I do not find the firing of these Kia executives to be at all surprising. I have worked extensively with Korean companies through consulting arrangements, and I have seen this exact scenario occur before. My business partner is Korean, and I have a deep appreciation for Korea, its people, and its culture. However, regardless of the experience or education level of the Korean-based executives I have met, there typically is very little understanding of American culture or American business practices. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge is often seen as a personal "weakness" and every attempt is made to mask it bravado and snap decision-making. If I were a U.S. Kia dealer, I would be very afraid.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If anything, he should be fired for that Rondo commercial. WTF was he thinking?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It certainly looks like these two should have been spending more of their time selling kias instead of promoting themselves at Advertising roundtables and University seminars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why does the Reply button never seem to work anymore?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Click on the timestamp then write in the reply box on that page. This has been detailed several times in the past week.
          • 6 Years Ago
          So why is there a reply button in the original comment that doesn't work?
          • 6 Years Ago
          Thanks for the info.
          Now... when is the reply going to be fixed?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Exactly. It's a business decision, and I'm sure the CEO doesn't care if Autoblog understands it or not.
      • 6 Years Ago
      it doesn't really have to do with the ad; the Koreans are just slave-drivers.

      if you don't believe it, just check the revolving door that has been going on at sister Hyundai. there have been over five executives (and very qualified ones, at that) that have come and gone in the last few years.

      the Koreans don't really understand our market, and it's cyclical ups and downs. they seem to think that sales can just keep heading upwards at a
      10%+ clip, regardless of credit or economic issues.

      if they would like more informative ads, perhaps they can find some old videos of the awful ads Daihatsu ran in the US in their very short life here in the late 80's.

      for those who don't remember, they looked like the 8MM films those of us in school in the 60s and 70s were subjected to watch during class. they showed a photo of the factory, and pictures of white-coated engineers working on stuff.

      ...not a jiggle anywhere, except on the computerized highway simulator.

      AZMike
      • 6 Years Ago
      Len Hunt and Ian Beavis were the best things that ever happened to Kia. The fact that the Hyundai/Kia execs in Korea think they understand the American market and culture is just evidence of their incredible arrogance. With Hunt and Beavis heading the U.S. future, Kia had the opportunity to prosper in the U.S. Now that a narrow minded autocrat has been installed, the Koreans have shot themselves in the foot. It's something they won't realize for quite some time.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I hear his new job is co-driving for Tanner Faust... oh wait, that's Chrissie Beavis.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe they saw the long-term effects of the "Joe Isuzu" spots on that company, and decided humor wasn't the way to go.
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