Millard Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to open trade with Japan, but his overtures and imprecations to trade proved less attractive to nearby Korea in 2008.
Kia Motors Co. appears to have sacked two executives responsible for the use of Millard Fillmore and Millard Fillmore soap-on-a-rope in the current Kia advertising campaign.
The 13th U.S. president was central to Kia’s upcoming “Unheard of President’s Day Sale,” honoring, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, the first commander in chief to have running water in the White House. The punchline of new TV ads promoting the sale is a soap-on-a-rope bust of President Fillmore; the automaker handed out the same soaps to reporters at its media dinner last week during the Chicago Auto Show.
New chairman not amused
But Byung Mo Ahn was not amused. The South Korea-born executive, who returned to Kia’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters nine days ago in the newly created position of chairman and group CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (the automotive plant currently under construction in West Point, Ga.), doesn’t like the current brand of humor in Kia’s ads, according to executives close to the matter. One of those executives said Mr. Ahn prefers to show the cars and trucks as serious contenders with good quality.
The offending ad:
Personally, I thought the offense of repeating the historical error about Fillmore and White House bathtubs was excusable for the courage to use Fillmore to advertise anything. You have to tip your back scrubbing brush to a company who thinks Americans have enough smarts to recognize historical humor, and who is brave enough to act on it.
(I wouldn’t exactly kill for one, but it sure would be nice to have one of those Millard Fillmore Soap-on-a-Rope thingies, for the Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub National Archives, of course. With my teacher’s salary, I ain’t paying the big bucks on eBay for one, either. I’m sure the Smithsonian Institution, and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society would love to have examples, too.)