All these Super Bowl ads are doing their best to stand out, but Kia's new 2020 Super Bowl commercial might take the cake. The car ad tells the story of Josh Jacobs and his path to pro football. So, who is Josh Jacobs? The Raiders running back has an inspiring story.
Jacobs' path to professional football wasn't an easy one. Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jacobs and his family experienced homelessness for part of his youth. But Jacobs wanted to play football, and he trained as hard as he could — even as a kid. And Jacobs' hard work paid off when, in 2019, he was drafted by the Raiders in the first round of the NFL draft. In the new Kia ad, tiled "Tough Never Quits," Jacobs gives some advice to his younger self.
"I'd tell him, 'Josh, it's going to be hard growing up homeless, but you gotta believe in yourself, be tougher than the world around you, and that field — that's your proving ground,'" Jacobs says in the ad, as his younger self sits next to him. "'Push yourself to be someone. And I promise someday, you will.'"
The ad contrasts reenacted footage of a young Jacobs running in Tulsa with footage of the present-day Jacobs walking onto the football field as a professional player. As the present-day Jacobs gives advice to his younger self, both of them are sitting in a car — the brand new Kia Seltos, because this is still an ad, after all.
To accompany the ad, Kia also made a six-minute documentary about Jacobs and his dad. In this documentary, Jacobs and his dad describe their family's experiences with homelessness. Jacobs' dad, Marty, recalls trying to find well-lit spaces to park (the family was living in their car at the time), helping his kids with their homework, and making sure they got to school on time. A former coach from Jacobs' high school also appears in the ad, saying that Marty tried hard to "keep everything normal" for his kids.
"He was always like my superhero growing up," Jacobs says about his dad. "I don't regret going through anything that I went through because it made me who I am."
According to a 2017 brief from Voices of Youth Count (VoYC), a University of Chicago-based national policy research initiative, some 700,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 experience homelessness in a given year. That figure is even higher for young adults between the ages of 18 to 25; among this age group, an estimated 3.5 million experience homelessness each year. Many young people experiencing homelessness told VoYC that they also had problems with substance misuse, mental health, the foster care system, and the criminal justice system.
Kia's latest ad is part of its "Give It Everything" campaign, which it launched in Feb. 2019 with a video about the town of West Point, Georgia. During of the 2019 Super Bowl, Kia used its Big Game ad budget to highlight this town and help eligible students go to college or vocational schools. In 2020, by telling Jacobs' story, Kia hopes to highlight the issue of youth homelessness. According to Kia's official website, the company plans to donate $1,000 for every yard gained during the Super Bowl to three charities that combat youth homelessness: Covenant House, StandUp for Kids, and Positive Tomorrows.