The New, New Car Smell

Kia is the official automotive partner of the NBA. Momentum was tasked with creating a promotional campaign that not only highlights this partnership, but leverages it to drive more NBA fans to Kia dealerships for a test drive.

Ultimately, the goal was to build awareness, as well as change consumers’ perception of Kia’s product quality, by engaging with NBA fans through custom content.

NBA fans live and breathe the teams and players they love. So, we set out to help them live and "breathe" the teams they love — literally— by unveiling Kia's newest innovation: air fresheners that emit the "distinct in-game musk" of fans’ favorite NBA teams. Because, "You can't smell like your favorite NBA team. But now your Kia can."

After all, Kia is all about elevating every aspect of the car experience. So who better than Kia to elevate the new car smell?

Our target was the millennial NBA fan — a young, diverse and affluent audience who are critical to the future growth of the automotive category and projected to account for 40% of new vehicles in the next 10 years.

The NBA is the #1 league across social media, 360-video, live-streaming and user-generated content, so digital was the key platform for reaching this tech-native audience that heavily consumes league content.

The NBA is also a league that is known for pushing the boundaries of sport and challenging convention, which aligns perfectly with Kia’s strong heritage as a challenger brand.

So, we wanted to create engaging content that was unexpected, playful, easy to talk about and easy to share, and made visiting a Kia dealership more appealing to NBA fans.

The campaign launched with content that introduced the uniquely pungent air fresheners, along with their origin, the “Kia Scent Lab.” The video ended with a call to action driving viewers to collect a free air freshener with a test drive at a participating Kia dealership. Over 18,000 air fresheners have been distributed to 200 dealerships across America. Additionally, the content was made available for dealers to run in local markets and the 200 participating dealerships.

The full-length video launched across Kia’s social channels, with specially tagged versions Tweeted by Kia’s 12 partner NBA teams.

We revamped a forgotten piece of automotive paraphernalia to excite and engage NBA fan s—giving them a new, compelling reason to stop by their local Kia dealership for a test drive.

The video generated 97MM impressions in its first month, which is 529% higher than Kia’s NBA social content achieves in an average month. It generated 1.9K mentions, which is 313% higher than an average post for Kia’s NBA social content. It generated 98% net positive sentiment for the brand, and created a cultural association between the brand, the new car smell and the NBA.

LeBron James Retweeted the video to his 35M followers, where fans responded with GIFs and memes celebrating team smells, team performance, and asking LeBron if the Cavaliers smelled better before or after the game.

Fans compared the smell of the air freshener to the performance and characteristics of their favorite team, e.g., The Warriors smelled like “bandwagon,” the Knicks smelled “like unicorn sweat,” and the Clippers had a “promising” name but “disappointing” scent.

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