Hero’s Journey

By: Sydney Wall

This Super Bowl commercial, “Hero’s Journey,” starring Melissa McCarthy was a fan favorite this year. The commercial was for the 2017 Kia Niro, an eco-friendly car. The ad features well-known comedian, Melissa McCarthy, trying (but failing) to solve many world issues. When trying to save the whales, a whale crashes down on her dingy, sending her flying into the side of a large ship. As she is saving the trees, a lumberjack chops down the tree she is climbing and sends her tumbling down a cliff. The sign “Save The Ice Caps” that she sticks into an iceberg, causes the ice cap to split in half, taking her down with it. Finally, as she is trying to save the rhinos, she is chased by a massive rhino who snags her pants by its horn and flings her around. She does all these things while driving the 2017 Kia Niro.

This is definitely a slapstick commercial. The psychoanalytic aspect of this commercial is its humor. This ad was successful in fulfilling its purpose as a comedy. Humor is used because it makes us feel good and is memorable. Melissa McCarthy is one of the top female comedy actresses of today. She was absolutely hilarious in this commercial. Ironically enough, the song, “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, was playing in the background, only adding to the humor of this advertisement. Melissa McCarthy is attempting to be a hero but she is failing miserably. It is funny to watch her try to solve all of these world problems but in actuality, she is making them worse. Her delivery is comedy gold because she continues to help out with these issues despite all of her failures. People love to watch other people get hurt. Her portrayal was reminiscent of legendary cartoons where pain is laughed at. Pain makes us laugh. It’s one aspect of comedy that never fails. Then again, laughter is the best medicine.

Melissa McCarthy said, “For years, I’ve been trying to find the perfect project that combined the real threat of me breaking every bone in my body, with my desire to help save the environment. Thanks Kia!!! XOXO Love, Melissa.”

The semiotic aspect of this commercial is that Melissa McCarthy’s attempts to save the planet represents the purpose of the Kia Niro. The 2017 Kia Niro is an eco-friendly vehicle that produces less harmful emissions. It has the optimized fuel economy of a hybrid and the versatile design and practicality of a crossover. The commercial ends with the line, “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one.” Melissa McCarthy may not be an eco-warrior, but she is definitely a comedic hero.


“Hero’s Journey” was created by the David & Goliath agency for the Kia Niro. During the Super Bowl, consumers were able to engage with the interactive NiroBot for Messenger to have the chance to win more than 40 props and assorted items from the set of the commercial. It was ranked the top commercial in the 29th annual USA TODAY Ad Meter. It was estimated that this commercial cost Kia at least $10 million but it could be more due to Melissa McCarthy’s prominence in Hollywood. Overall, this was a successful Super Bowl commercial on Kia’s part.

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