If you read my post about all things Kia Stinger and you’re here, you must be really intrigued with what Kia is doing these days, especially when it comes to the Stinger. Me too. There’s actually a lot more to Kia than just the cars and having attended four very different Kia press trips, I think it’s time to peel back the curtain.
There’s a side of Kia you don’t often get to see. When I attend these press introduction trips, I get a chance to meet with Kia personnel who work in all different areas at all different levels. And I get to spend plenty of time not in the car. So what happens when we’re not driving?
Kia doesn’t just invite you to drive a car. They invite you to experience the car.
When I attended my first Kia event, we headed out to the horse country of Middleburg, Virginia where we enjoyed a refined and upscale introduction to the refined and upscale Kia Cadenza. And even though I was one of the ONLY ones to literally dress for the Kentucky Derby-themed dinner in the horse barn, I appreciated the overall experience Kia brought to the event.
Just a few short months later, I was out in San Francisco for the introduction of the Kia Soul Turbo. The vibe, as you can imagine, was fun and funky and when we weren’t driving, we were having drinks and bowling. Coincidentally, we also sat dumbfounded as election results rolled in that night.
And then, I got to visit a totally brand new city this year as I got to know and love the Kia Niro, a wonderful little hybrid SUV. To emphasize its unique style and value, we gathered in the gorgeous and historic Hotel Emma in the fabulous city of San Antonio, Texas. But the most memorable part of the trip, aside from the car itself, was the epic games of Nirofest.
And that brings me to the latest experience – the national press introduction of the Kia Stinger. So how do you create an experience for a fast, cool car from an unlikely brand? You head back to the decade where cars could be fast and cool while becoming American driving icons (think Trans Am, Camaro, Mustang, an, arguably, Pacer – sorry, I loved that car!).
We flew into the junior version of LAX just north of the city – Burbank Airport – and were shuttled to what one might call a “vintage” hotel in the heart of North Hollywood. The Garland was once owned by Beverly Garland, best known as the “new mom” on My Three Sons, and today it’s still owned and operated by the Garland family. (Fun fact: her daughter, Carrington Garland replaced Robin Wright on Santa Barbara – one of my favorite soaps back in the 80s – and now runs the onsite gift shop!)
It’s considered fun, retro, and elegant all at the same time which made for the perfect setting for this new style icon being introduced by Kia. Before we even got a good look at the car, we were off exploring the area and actually walking down the street to see… THE BRADY BUNCH HOUSE!
Apparently some of you don’t know that this is the house used for the exterior shots. Everything was actually filmed on a set, of course. And it’s so much smaller than I thought! And if I didn’t get enough Brady or 70s entertainment, the onsite movie theater had continuous movie classic playing interspersed with episodes of The Brady Bunch on the big screen.
But it was Kia that picked up on the theme and ran with it.
The first night, they hosted a lovely dinner in the gardens with food stations inspired by classic 70s films.
The second night, they turned the hotel ballroom into a supper club complete with kitschy entertainment and food stations from several different countries. How does that relate? (Because it does, of course). We were treated to food from Germany, Spain, Korea, Austria, and California – each one representing a country that was significantly involved in the design, engineering, and testing of the Stinger.
And when we weren’t driving or eating, we were hanging out in the hospitality suite where we grooved to classic vinyl tunes. There was ample space and perfectly designed decor to complement the theme and provide an atmosphere for networking with Kia personnel and other automotive writers.
So how did this all tie in to the Stinger? Well, if you saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2, you’ll remember Peter’s father in a flashback scene from the late 70s/early 80s. He’s cruising around in his cool car with his cool hair singing, “Brandy, what a fine girl. What a good wife you would be.”
It’s that cool vibe that Kia created for me that made me not only appreciate Stinger as a car but also the efforts of marketing and PR that help us understand how this car fits in, even with the Kia badge.