Can Hamster Ads Really Help Sell Kia Souls?


Every now and then a commercial comes along that will cause you to scratch your head and say, “What does that have to do with the product they’re selling?” While these commercials will often stick in your head, they do so for the wrong reasons. And, they can sometimes have the opposite effect on the consumer the company is targeting.

The one commercial currently on TV that gets under my skin is the one with hamsters driving the Kia Soul. First of all, I don’t get it — why hamsters? Aside from the fact that animals can’t drive, it’s odd to me that, of all the animals in the world, they’ve chosen hamsters … and human-sized hamsters at that! Not only are the hamsters driving, but they’re dancing and singing, too.

When I started to write this blog post, I looked up these hamster commercials online and found some very interesting comments. Many of the people talking about these commercials like them (again, I don’t get it, but I’m not part of the Gen Y group being targeted by this product).

The funny thing is, they seem to like the commercials for the music being played (they even launched the newest commercial during this year’s MTV Video Music Awards). Everyone’s buzzing about the songs … not the Kia Soul. One person online did say that when his girlfriend saw the Kia Soul at an auto show, she didn’t like it, but after seeing the hamster commercial, she wanted one. So, I guess it worked on her.

I’d be interested to know how many Souls have actually been sold since this campaign started in 2009. I’d be even more interested in knowing how many downloads the music has received. I firmly believe that ads should evoke emotion in the viewer/consumer and offer a product that fills a real need. Cars are a need for many. And, I guess annoyance is an emotion … unfortunately, it’s that opposite emotion I mentioned earlier.

I have to think that anyone as annoyed by these commercials as I am (and there has to be a few), would purposely not buy the Kia Soul because not only is the commercial annoying, but it has not effectively sold the product. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what an ad should do?

Feel free to share your thoughts on the Kia Soul ads in the comments!

This post is co-authored by Stacy Butts, vice president at Identity.