Friday, February 18, 2011

Hamstering it up

It's about time I got around to this one.

This ad, from early 2009 or so, is a good commercial. It's a clever use of interesting visuals to communicate, getting across the idea that the Kia Soul is distinct from the many cookie-cutter cars on the road. It even gets in a couple facts about the car at the end.

Unfortunately, Kia bought into the hamsters maybe a little too much.

What the hell is that mess?

It seems pretty clear that I'm not in this ad's target demographic (the references to 145th Street and Amsterdam Avenue place the setting quite conspicuously in Harlem). But it's still baffling. First of all, Kia makes the pretty bold assumption that you remember their earlier hamster ad - it was a good ad, but it wasn't exactly "Have you had your break today?" Even beyond that, the two ads have virtually nothing in common beyond the hamsters - the hamster wheels make only a fleeting appearance in the sequel, the hamsters have now been dressed up in all manner of clothing, and Calvin Harris' "Colours" (an electronica song from 2007) has been replaced with Black Sheep's "The Choice is Yours" (a hip hop song from 1991). Really, why did they even bother to keep the hamsters? Surely the branding from the first commercial wasn't that valuable if they just threw out everything else.

Gone is the clever suggestion that the competition is like a bunch of identical hamster wheels; in its place are comparisons to a toaster and a cardboard box. Is this still supposed to represent the competition? Is it supposed to represent the used cars that might be the only other alternative for someone shopping in the Kia Soul's price range? It's impossible to say for sure when Kia is dealing entirely in metaphors. I don't know. Maybe if I lived in Harlem this ad would make perfect sense... but somehow I doubt that.

It's also worth noting that by giving the hamsters so much more to do, Kia has successfully called attention to the not-especially-good CGI they're employing in that department. The first ad seemed like it might have been mostly real hamsters until the end; I can't imagine there's a real hamster for even a frame in this commercial, and it's painfully obvious. Does that really matter? Probably not. But it looks cheap. I don't know, maybe that was the point.


CiceroXIII said...

My interpretation of this ad is that random pieces of garbage like cardboard boxes and inexplicably motorized toasters are quite literally the only form of transportation shittier than Kia's cars. "We'll lose if we compare our products to actual other vehicles... so how about whatever's in the dumpster out back? Surely people would rather drive a Soul than an old pizza box or a used condom!"

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha I absolutely love Cicero's comment.

capewood said...

I had not made the connection to the earlier Kia ad with the hamsters until you mentioned it. I actually thought this new commercial featured rats. I don't know why this add wouldn't be offensive to blacks. I think I'd be offended.