Call it marketing genius or branding suicide. Kia Motors’ “hamster” campaign for its 2010 Soul certainly is getting lots of attention. One and a half million people already have viewed the latest commercial on YouTube, not to mention the ad’s appearance on various cable and TV stations.
The Japanese carmaker succeeded in generated buzz across new and traditional media, a triumph especially in today’s highly competitive automobile marketplace. But will it come at a price?
“Hamsterdam Avenue” may be Kia’s own demise. Anyone who lived in New York City knows Amsterdam Avenue. While the avenue runs many blocks, the further uptown, the more urban the environment. Hamsters wearing gold chains, hoodies and listening to hip-hop music could very well be art imitating life on Amsterdam Avenue.
Is this good for Kia Motors? Much has changed within the last twenty years however. Hip-hop culture has made its way into scores of suburban neighborhoods. The negative connotation associated with urban, minority districts no longer has the stigma it once had, at least for the most part.
Kia Motors is tapping into the urban market, at least as it relates to its new hamster promotion. The commercials are witty, intoxicating and one of the more creative “animal” TV campaigns, even comparable to Geico’s gecko and Budweiser’s frogs. Sometimes being too edgy can backfire. Budweiser got a lot of flak for its “frog” commercials because they resonated with underage drinkers. Time will tell if Kia’s new hamster commercials will be criticized, but better yet, generate sales.