Kia wants you to believe that the carnival in the first ad is not a minivan

Once upon a time in America, minivans operated roads as the family vehicle of choice. Similarly, there was once a minivan that sounded very American from Kia, called Sedona. All that has changed, as SUVs now rule families far and wide, and Sedone is no more. That is, in the name anyway. Kia’s minivan now runs under its global name Carnival, though Kia really he doesn’t want you to call it a minivan.

That’s the essence of Kia’s new advertising campaign for Carnival, which includes the above ad interspersed with rough shots of dirty bikes, dusty campsites and various towed trailers. The minivan is never mentioned, as Kia calls the Carnival a multi-purpose vehicle. The campaign is further pressured by the carmaker in a statement on marketing ventures, while highlighting Carnival’s versatile capabilities.

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“Carnival MPV defines a new vehicle segment – a multi-purpose vehicle: versatile, capable and comfortable, and provides owners with what they need when they need it,” said Russell Wager, Kia’s vice president of marketing for North America. “From everyday commuting and long-distance travel to camping adventures, family vacations and shifts, the Carnival MPV easily transforms from an elegant and sophisticated adventurer into a cavernous freight tug. And everything in between.”

If the first sentence in that quote doesn’t fit you well, don’t worry. Kia clearly doesn’t understand the multitude of traditional SUVs that have existed in Europe for decades, regardless of vehicles like the Ford C-Max in the United States. Hell, Mazda even sold the vehicle that was actually called MPV, although we recognize that at this point the specific definitions for MPV, SUV, and minivan are seriously mixed. However, this is by no means a new segment.

That said we weren’t an anti-carnival. We get what Kia is trying to sell – its more upright lines, padded sides and bulky nose give the Carnival a distinctive SUV look and a good look. That sliding side door, however, is a clean minivan and you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. So come on Kia, just own it already.