SBD/Issue 102/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Super Bowl Ads: NFL Not Pleased With Vegas Cameo In Kia Spot

Watch The Kia Sorento Spot
MGM Mirage "pulled off an end run around the NFL’s ban on Las Vegas advertising during Sunday’s Super Bowl thanks to a Kia Motors ad -- and the NFL is not pleased," according to Steve Friess of PORTFOLIO. The NFL in December loosened its rules on Las Vegas advertisements to "allow commercials for the destination as long as it didn’t show the Strip, casinos, drinking, or sexual activity." The NFL policy still prohibits "any gambling references -- audio or video -- or any gambling imagery." But Kia's 60-second Super Bowl spot showed sock puppets "cruising down Las Vegas boulevard" and walking "into the Monte Carlo Hotel-Casino," which is owned by the MGM Mirage. NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy in an e-mail said, "CBS sells the ads that appear in the game. We did not see this ad before it aired. The shots of the casinos did violate our policy, and we have since addressed the matter with CBS." Kia spokesperson Jay Joyer said that ad agency David & Goliath, L.A., "submitted the commercial two weeks ago" for approval from CBS, and it "sailed through without any pushback." Joyer: "We were aware of the sensitivity over Las Vegas and gambling and the NFL, but in terms of the creative of the ad, the intention was always to film that part of it in Las Vegas." MGM Mirage VP/Public Affairs Gordon Absher said, "This still sounds like an issue between the NFL and CBS" (, 2/8). Meanwhile, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority VP/Public Affairs Vince Alberta said that the group was "unaware that the ad was airing but pleased with the result." Alberta: "We ended up getting international exposure without having to make an investment. I think it demonstrates the strength of the Las Vegas brand" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/8).

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