Why Kia turned to TikTok to drive authentic brand engagement

The car brand put creators in the driver’s seat to create authentic, seamless audience connection on the video sharing platform

To promote its new car release, Kia Motors turned to TikTok with the novel concept of tapping several of the platform’s popular creators to share livestreams of their road trips.  

The idea was first hatched when TikTok approached Kia with the concept of a road trip-style campaign using its platform. When the right opportunity presented itself with the launch of the new Seltos, Kia took it.  

Kia Motors digital marketing manager, Nikolas Souliotis, explained the brand loved the idea of breaking the norms of platform-brand relationships in a way he claimed had never been done before in Australia.  

“A three-way partnership between Kia, TikTok and Creators Agency allowed us to step out of the edit suite and explore new ways of storytelling and content co-creation,” Souliotis told CMO.  

With plenty of data under its belt, Kia has found TikTok a valuable platform for media and performance as well as a creative outlet and long-term brand-building channel. The automotive brand also knew TikTok could be a strategic platform to connect with a younger, diverse demographic – a core audience for the Seltos campaign – and build brand affinity so that when they move into different life stages, the brand has already established a relationship.  

Another must was advancing the way the brand utilised the social media platform and formats. "While we hadn't used TikTok Live before, we knew creators could spark conversations in real time and help viewers become more engaged in the conversation, allowing us to get insights on how to approach long-form content in the future,” said Souliotis.  

The result was head-to-head road trip taking viewers on a livestreamed ride in the Seltos with some of Australia's top TikTok creators. Combined, the influencers chosen had nearly 5 million followers.  

Creators were paired up and competed against each other in a series of challenges. The brand selected creators who understood the importance of team chemistry, the value of great content and the nature of a livestream, Souliotis explained. This featured comedy duo, @Lachy Mac and @Georgia Productions, stopping off to grab different prop items, delivering laughs through their improv comedy. Artists @Bridey Drake and @Jiny Maeng put their artistic skills to the test to create a portrait of each other using a range of materials.  

Credit: Kia

“We collaborated with a diverse array of creators spanning food, comedy, art and sports as we wanted to focus on a different content theme and challenge each day,” Souliotis said.  

“It allowed us to engage with viewers in real time through live chats, Q&A sessions and asking the audience for input on the conversation happening while on the road.”  

Data-driven approach to move out of the comfort zone  

The campaign included a mix of organic and paid activity on TikTok and was part of a tactical product soft launch. The aim was increasing awareness of the Seltos, specifically among a younger demographic, and provide learnings to inform a digital-first launch in January.  

“We have very ambitious internal targets as part of the overall campaign, but they are about much more than views – attention, watch time, brand favourability, audience data and insights are just as important. The TikTok content partnership helped us explore all those metrics,” Souliotis continued.  

He acknowledged it’s easier to buy impressions and views, but that’s not the brand end-goal. Instead, it wants to be part of the flow and find ways to earn attention without taking away from the user’s experience.

“We’re very curious as a team and we like exploring opportunities that are data-driven and challenge us to get out of our comfort zone,”  Souliotis said.  

“We’re still in the early days of building this, but after a few projects and a lot of work behind the scenes with the TikTok team, I’m excited about what lies ahead.”  

The brand doesn’t see the campaign as a one-off project either. “It’s a strategy, an invitation to work closely with TikTok and transform how we tell our story as an equal part of the community,” he said.  

For Kia, deep thematic integrations with creators drove the highest results. And there are lessons to heed for those wanting to adopt a similar approach.  

“Everyone involved in branded content should know three things: Your main objective, your values and your boundaries. Everything else is a collaborative, creative space where TikTok and creators have an active role in creating the content,” Souliotis advised.  

“The end result is far deeper than a product placement and the content works more effectively. When you give creators the opportunity to contribute to the process, the audience will sense authenticity and the content will come across as genuine and fresh.”  

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page


Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts



CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...


The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Great Sharing thoughts.It is really helps to define marketing strategies. After all good digital marketing plan leads to brand awareness...

Paul F

Driving digital marketing effectiveness

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in