Ads Watch: Kia Optima Blake Time Travels

19 Dec

Blake Griffin, pitchman, is so uncharacteristic in these ads, that it kind of flips all the way around, making him seem charismatic.

There are two versions of this commercial so far, and the model plays out so well that it would make a lot of sense to make a couple more; unlike the Aaron Rodgers State Farm commercial which came together on a number of magically impossible to replicate details, the formula here seems pretty easy to assemble.

In short, both begin with Blake Griffin using the fancy voice activated system for the Kia, which apparently controls, among other things, a time machine, to go back in time to a year in the mid’90s, and then, again using the voice activated system, puts on an appropriate period pop song.  He visits himself as a kid and impresses his younger self with his car.  He gives the kid an idiosyncratic piece of advice, and returns.

Let’s start with the 1995 edition for further detail.  The song, on the way back in time, is “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, a perfect choice to epitomize the period of time.  He comes back and visits six-year old Blake, who’s hanging on the rim of a basketball hoop attached to his garage.  How did he got to be hanging on the rim?  Who the fuck knows.  He asks 2012 Blake who he is, and Blake responds that he’s himself from the future, and the kids asks if big Blake’s car is a spaceship.  Why in the world would a six year old think a car, that looks like any other car, is a spaceship?  Because it came through some sort of time portal?  I suppose, but still.  2012 Blake tells him that the Kia is way better than a spaceship, and I like how blunt and unhesitating he is; there’s no way a spaceship could be better than this car.  Blake shows a solid self-aware sense of humor in telling the kid to practice his free throws, and proceeds to fling a free throw towards the hoop and miss it badly.  (Where did the basketball come from?  I’ve watched this ad a dozen times and I still have no idea).  He doesn’t consider the fact that six-year old him is dangerously hanging from the rim, or the even more disturbing fact that flinging a free throw could dislodge the six-year old and cause a dangerous fall.  He just turns around, leaves him hanging, and heads back to the future as “This is How We Do It” returns and the screen turns to white.

The 1997 version functions similarly and is every bit as good, if not better.  He tells the car to take him back to 1997, and play jukebox, which here plays OMC’s “How Bizarre”, an equally appropriate choice to summon up memories of that year.  He shows up to find eight year old Blake playing football in the park and immediately instructs him, “Wrong sport” and punts the football far away.  Young Blake looks up confused, asks who he is, and 2012 Blake informs his younger self that he’s him from the future (apologize for the confusing pronouns but this is what happens when you have a future version meeting a past version of the same person) and tells him a little bit about his futuristic car; this part is the most ad-like piece of the commercial, but I enjoy that the Kia features he brags about really don’t sound all that futuristic.  He pauses and shares a sublimely awkward three second pause staring at his younger self, and then issues him the advice to “Stop Wearing Jean Shorts.”  When the kid looks down confused, older Blake says, “Just Trust Me,” and the screen turns to white, and How Bizarre resumes playing in the background.

I’ve mentioned some of my favorite parts in the descriptions, but I’ll sum them up here.  First, as I started up top with, Blake makes this ad.  He’s not charismatic, and he doesn’t even try, but his matter of fact, lack of inflection tone is simply perfect.  In that tone is his utter lack of empathy; he doesn’t try to connect with his younger self at all, and is, really, kind of a dick.  In the 1995 ad, he leaves his younger self hanging on the rim, and in the 1997 version, he boots his younger self’s football away from him.  Even his bits of advice are given entirely without emotion.  The song choice is absolutely spot on for both ads, and I still love that the five year old thinks the car is his spaceship.  All in all, it makes for the rare tolerable car commercial.  More, please.

One Response to “Ads Watch: Kia Optima Blake Time Travels”

  1. Igor January 29, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    ‘Think About It’ marketing sttraegy has become popular since the launch of the award winning Picanto TV advert and runs through all of Kia’s national and regional marketing

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