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Automobiles

February 14, 1995|John O'Dell, Times staff writer

Honda Steers Kia Toward Trouble: Kia Motors of America in Irvine had a pretty catchy commercial campaign that showed one of its Korean-made Sephia sedans following a Honda Civic all over the country in varying terrain and climate conditions, until the Honda pulled into a gated estate in a community that looked suspiciously like Brentwood.

"Yeah, we followed the Civic everywhere--except into the neighborhood of $12,000. Because it's time everyone had a well-made car," the announcer intoned in one ad. American Honda Motor Co. in Torrance took offense and complained to the Better Business Bureau's national advertising division that the ads conveyed the impression that Kia sells a $9,000 car that is built as well as the pricier Civic.

The national advertising division, which serves as arbiter in such ad disputes, asked Kia to make minor modifications to the ads and the company has agreed, although not without complaint.

Kia said that it disagreed with the division's conclusion "that the obvious humor in the commercial is not sufficient to avoid the possibility that a small portion of the audience would assume that the commercials are making an objectively provable claim in the reference to the Honda Civic."

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