ads: Kia’s losing its Soul

It all started out so innocently. A unique vehicle with an innovative ad strategy. Kia Soul, the urban crossover vehicle.1

The hamsters are cute, the music is good with both a pop and retro feel, and the iPod brings instant recognition that says “You’re already cool, we just made a car to go with that.” It’s short and sweet, weird, but sweet.

Then, to push the “urban” aspect, they took it back in the day with Black Sheep‘s “The Choice is Yours“. Not only are there still hamster wheels signifying the run of the mill vehicle, now lesser hamsters try frontin’ driving toasters, washing machines and… cardboard boxes for some reason. Still, it’s recognizable, funny, still a bit weird but it makes you smile–if it doesn’t creep you out.

I’m not usually swayed by commercials, car commercials especially, but when I had the opportunity to rent a Kia Soul from Zipcar, I did and it wasn’t bad… for driving around in a cube. Connecting my iPhone was easy and it even paired via Bluetooth to make calls.2 I wouldn’t buy one because I don’t need a car 24/7 in DC, but I’d rent it again–if there were no other normal-shaped cars available.

Having given up on MTV a while back since they adamantly refused to age, keeping their target audience the 14-24 crowd, I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards this weekend. So it took me a while to see that Kia was at it again with a new ad for the Soul using LMFAO‘s amazingly infectious3 single “Party Rock Anthem“. The song is most noted for its video tapping the popularity of the shuffle style of dance which can go from simple footwork like The Charleston or Running Man to a much more frenetic controlled chaotic back and forth slide that makes my head spin.

Given the over-saturation of the song, you’d think they couldn’t get it wrong and yet somehow they did. It just doesn’t feel organic, pardon the robot pun, at :28 in when the robot throws the pose and they all start dancing. It’s also an interesting counterpoint to the song’s original video which adopts a “28 Days Later” motif that the song is so infectious the entire populace has turned into shuffling zombies. Kia turns that on its head with the hamsters stopping what looks like a robotic version of Halo through the power of dance. But for some reason it ain’t working for me. The motion capture is great, but the hamsters aren’t convincing–though I do like the “Hamstar” t-shirt.

I’ve never really thought that car commercials worked–in terms of making people want to run out and buy the car, that is–I always saw them as a means to affix the vehicle into the culture. Especially nowadays when people don’t have that much money to spend on a new car anyway. A good car ad is something that people just remember because it’s cute or funny–or contains a giant gift bow that you always wonder how people got it. But just like LMFAO has reached their one-hit wonder point with this song, I think the hamsters have had their run. Still cute, tho. :mrgreen:

1 Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

2 However unlike the past few drivers, I remembered to delete my phone’s connection from the car when I returned it.

3 Seriously, I can’t stop listening to it in the morning as one of my “get up and go” songs.

† But you won’t find me shufflin’… much.

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1 Response

  1. William Mize says:

    My parents are the proud owners of what their grandchildren call “the hamster car”. As you said, it’s a nice little drive, doesn’t lag with the air conditioning on, deceptively roomy inside, but yes – you are still driving a LEGO car.
    My vote is still for the first commercial being the best.

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