Selling the K900: A free meal to move Kia upscale

Kia gave prospective buyers a free meal at the upscale restaurant Sbraga in Philadelphia just for driving a Kia K900.

Kia gave prospective buyers a free meal at the upscale restaurant Sbraga in Philadelphia just for driving a Kia K900.

What, if you want to reposition your product, do you do? Well, one thing is to get prospective customers to try it. And how do you get them to do that? Well, how about a free meal at an upscale restaurant.

Lincoln did it with the Lincoln MKZ, for example.

And Kia Motors too hopes it can take you out to dinner. To raise awareness of its new no-modifier-required Kia K900—Kia has been inviting prospects to dine at upscale restaurants. We participated in one of these events recently in Philadelphia, along with about 125 other test drivers and a guest per each.

If that sounds like a “free stay at a resort if you sit through our high-pressure sales pitch first” scheme, don’t worry. Most invitees will be left wanting more seat time than the 12-block orbit through, as in our case, a tonier neighborhood of Philadelphia—and yes, that exists.  But of course, the Kia Motors rep will gladly direct those to a local dealership.

However, choosing those 125 K900 testers out of the entire population of the city and suburbs of Philly…how exactly did they do that?

Well, someone is looking over your shoulder. Specifically, via a web service called Open Table.com, which allows diners to make reservations at participating restaurants using OpenTable’s website. Open Table is monetizing its service by selling users’ dining habits to, in this case, Kia. And Kia matched this data to potential buyers of the Kia K900.

Of course, that’s a lot of money to be spending on 125 prospects. But Kia uses the internet to spread the word by offering the attendees a photograph of themselves—in front of a big banner emblazoned with “Kia” and “K900,” and then offering to put the photo up on the attendee’s social media of choice. And attendees are getting a free meal at Sbraga, so why not? Doesn’t everyone document their lives on Twitter and Facebook.

And how many friends do you have on Facebook and followers on Twitter? You can bet Kia and OpenTable know. That’s a lot of exposure, particularly if it sparks any kind of discussion. Kia’s confident the comments on the Kia  K900 will be positive, and so are we.