Kia: Millard Fillmore down the drain

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.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Questioning Reality.

13 Responses to Kia: Millard Fillmore down the drain

  1. […] but I’d still love to get a Millard Fillmore soap-on-a-rope, if you happen to have one in your soap-on-a-rope collection that you can spare.  Kia, are you […]


  2. […] Crichton’s errors worshipped by warming deniers The Millard Fillmore soap-on-a-rope* started spinning in the shower this morning.  I knew some mischief was […]


  3. […] grant, invention, news Ok, Google is pretty cool.  And, they have a sense of humor (unlike Kia).  But the recently announced Project 10^100th is beyond awesome.  Have a good idea?  Lack the […]


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Keep that soap! I predict it will be worth a lot, someday.


  5. keith says:

    Possibly an original event…
    I rode down with my mom to her house to pick up her motorcycle. I got into the passenger seat of her little Kia and felt something stabbing me in the spine right between my shoulder blades through my leather jacket.

    “What the Hell is stabbing me in the back?”
    Me mum burst out laughing.
    “Why, it’s my navigator, Millard Filmore, of course!”

    My little brother sells Kias and secured one of two Millard Filmore soap-on-a-ropes allocated to his store. He gave it to my mom and she hung it over the passenger side headrest on the front seat.

    I may be the first person to ever be stabbed in the spine by a Millard Filmore soap-on-a-rope.


  6. Pam says:

    EdD– I tried to get a soap sent to you. The Fillmore Society may get some–

    Fillmore Fans Clamor for Kia Soap


  7. TheGulag says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned the fact that the Millard Fillmore bathtub story is not true! What is true is documented accounts of presidents back to, at least, Thomas Jefferson having a bathtub in the White House.

    This story goes back to 1917 when, while nursing a hangover, H.L. Mencken had a deadline for a story in the New York Evening Mail. In his haste he thought it amusing to fabricate a story of the history of the American Bathtub. Mencken wrote that during President Fillmore’s time, there was a national sentiment that bathtubs in homes were not safe, or something to that effect. Mencken reported that President Fillmore put the first American bathtub in the White House to help galvanize the American public on the safety and sanitation benefits of their use. The story was meant to be a joke!

    Afterwards, Mencken repeatedly expressed the falsehoods of his article, yet the story still circulated as fact. Even Harry Truman referenced it in one of his speeches! Mencken, on his deathbed, again expressed his horror that this story survived as it did.

    I find it just hilarious, and sad at the same time, that 90 years later such falsehoods still find their way into popular culture.


  8. Reggie says:

    Who is the commercial model holding the soap?
    We want him for one of our commercials.


  9. ron says:

    oh, wait how about Grover Cleveland too????????


  10. ron says:

    where can you buy the soap???????????? What good idea


  11. cowgalutah says:

    Saw the ad last night, and like dorid thought of you!


  12. mpb says:

    Too bad they withdrew the ad. Recently, the passing of the Izuzu trucks were noted. Those were the ones that jumpstarted the small SUV craze through their silly ads with the sleazy salesman Joe Isuzu (David Leisure),0,5248149.story


  13. Dorid says:

    I saw that commercial yesterday, and immediately thought of you. Shame the soap-on-a-rope isn’t a real product.


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