A bot for Kia Motors today becomes first to debut a new Super Bowl ad

The ad, promoting the eco-angles of Kia’s new Niro crossover SUV, stars Melissa McCarthy on a mission to save the planet.

Barry Levine on February 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Bots are growing up. One of their kind today becomes the first to premiere a Super Bowl ad.

The 60-second ad — a whirlwind comic spot starring Melissa McCarthy for Kia’s new Niro crossover SUV — is now available through the company’s NiroBot on Facebook Messenger.

Kia COO and EVP Michael Sprague said in a statement that the bot milestone “reinforces the idea that our newest crossover is like nothing consumers have ever seen before,” backing the idea that the fuel-efficient Niro “sets a new standard in the market.”

The Niro is part of Kia Motors’ EcoDynamics philosophy, which includes “tripling the brand’s global green car lineup by 2020.”

The bot itself premiered last November as one of the first Messenger bots by a car maker, and the company said it has logged over half a million engagements.

Previewing a new ad or marketing campaign via a bot could become common. Among other things, it can theoretically allow the ad or other campaign asset to be accompanied by some responsive intelligence about the product.

The NiroBot chat experience is supposed to include “guided vehicle discovery, expansive technical knowledge, step-by-step tutorials and test drive scheduling.”

The NiroBot on Facebook Messenger

At least that’s the theory. My experience with the NiroBot was that it very quickly began saying things like:

  • “I’m sorry, but I didn’t quite get that. It’s hard being a bot!”
  • “I forgot.”
  • “Well… this is a bit embarrassing for a bot. I’m not sure what to say.”
  • “I’m not sure I know how to respond to that yet.”



Barry Levine

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.


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