Screencap from Kia's summer 2010 commercial for the SoulEnlarge Photo
Kia 'Hamsters' commercialEnlarge Photo
The Kia Soul will be headed to the U.S. this year as a 2010 modelEnlarge Photo
At the 2010 New York Auto Show, Neilsen handed Kia its top automotive advertising prize for last year's "New Way to Roll" ad, which featured some fairly hip hamsters cruising city streets in a bright red Kia Soul. Now, Kia is resuscitating those hamsters -- or their more urban, East Coast cousins -- for a new ad touting the Soul as a sweet summer ride.
The hamsters' return coincides with some downtime for Kia -- smack-dab in-between the recent winter/spring push for the new Sorento (featuring Nickelodeon's "Muno" and a questionable backing track) and the Sportage re-launch planned for August. The campaign includes a range of ads for a range of media, plus the now-standard microsite.
Apart from the simultaneously cutesy/cruel microsite game -- called "Escape from Hamsterdam" -- the "This or That" campaign is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First the ad itself is seriously good. As much as we may have cringed seeing the Chipettes performing "Single Ladies" in the recent Chipmunks trailer, Kia's dancing rodents look great. The animation is outstanding, the real-world integration is mostly spot-on, and if you take the time to go through the clip frame-by-frame (hey, we're obsessive like that), you'll see some amazing attention to detail. Take a good look at billboards, graffiti, marquees -- everything references the hamster world.
Second, the campaign has spawned a line of clothing. Well, technically it was spawned by last year's ads, when Kia began getting feedback from fans who wanted to develop merchandise based on the hamster characters. The "This or That" campaign clothes the hamsters (last year's were naked) and launches a website -- HamstarClothing.com -- where fans can soon buy outfits designed by pros and peers, featuring the hamster logo.
Our initial reticence about this whole hamster thing was not unlike the reaction we had to the Soul on first view, but Kia has done a great job of winning us over. Check the clip for yourself below, or, if that's not working, on YouTube: