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Locals enjoyed seeing West Point on big stage

WEST POINT — The big game Sunday night was not only the biggest night of the year for sports, it was also the biggest celebration of American advertisements. As football fans shushed their fellow viewers at every commercial break, one of the spots in the third quarter was sure to grab the attention of locals from the Greater Valley Area.

Kia’s “Give it Everything” big game spot has been a topic of conversation since it aired to advertise the company’s new vehicle, the 2020 Telluride. Being produced right here in West Point, the commercial featured Troup County schools, familiar locales and faces belonging to natives of the area.

“I loved seeing our downtown, and I loved seeing the pride our community takes in making a quality product at Kia,” said West Point Mayor Steve Tramell.

The commercial did spark some discussion with how West Point was portrayed, however. While Tramell and others like him were proud to see their town on the national stage, some felt that the commercial’s focus on the line “we are not famous” painted the town negatively.

“It said ‘we are not famous but we are incredible, and we make incredible things,” Tramell said. “I will take being incredible any day over being famous. People will dwell on the first thing and not on the latter all day long, but this is an incredible community. I feel very strongly about that, and it was very well stated by that young man in the commercial.”

The narrator of the ad and everyone else depicted throughout it are from West Point and surrounding areas. Jude Thrower, a 12-year-old from West Point, could also be seen in the commercial overlooking West Point from a spot in Pine Mountain.

“We work and live here,” said Jude’s father, Matthew Thrower. “I thought the commercial was spot on and was a good depiction of West Point.”

Thrower said that Jude and the other kids got involved with Kia through a casting call in December. A production company worked with Patrick Sands, Public Relations Manager for KMMG, to scout the best places to film and the best people to talk to West Point.

After initial interviews, those chosen to be a part of the project spent the rest of the month doing line reads, participating in photoshoots and getting filmed in different parts of the town.

“We didn’t know it was for the Super Bowl,” Thrower said. “When it got closer to it, we had kind of heard that it was for the Super Bowl, and we saw an article a couple of weeks ago that there was going to be a spot. Then we saw the teaser and were like ‘OK, you may be on during the Super Bowl, Jude.”

Thrower said that his son was thrilled to be a part of it and see himself and his city during the big game. His excitement seemed to be shared by other West Point residents who disagreed with the claim that the commercial was negative.

“I saw some of the criticism and I get their sentiments that Kia wasn’t the only one that brought up this town, but they had a lot to do with it,” Thrower said. “This town was going under quickly and I witnessed that. I have seen the revitalization that a company like Kia can do. They have brought in all these jobs and that is a good thing.”

The commercial wasn’t the first time in recent memory that West Point received national attention for a sporting event either, as their town on the border of Georgia was home to the Chick-fil-A Rivalry Restaurant in late 2018.

“I’m kind of getting used to it,” Tramell laughed.

Tramell said he’ll always remember Super Bowl LIII for the Kia commercial.

“I couldn’t care less at the end of the day, at the end of the month, what celebrity was in any of those other commercials,” Tramell said. “What I am going to remember are these local citizens that were in the commercial for Kia.”