Kia's hamster commercials are that rarest of advertising species: a campaign that by all objective measures you should hate, but which you can't help but love.
The formulaic setups—fruit doesn't hang much lower than dancing animals—are redeemed by the supremely gleeful (and skillful) execution, and the attention to detail. The ads, by David&Goliath, are so well produced—and they go so all in—that you can't help tapping your foot to the music, even as you try to stifle the smile that so annoyingly seems to be spreading on your face.
In the end, you might as well just sit back and enjoy it.
Kia certainly is. The campaign has picked up Effie awards and Nielsen's "Automotive Ad of the Year" honor and racked up tens of millions of YouTube views. There's a good reason this is the fifth spot in the series.
And it might be the best yet—despite once again being almost completely clichéd. It promotes the all-new 2014 Soul, which has been significantly redesigned. And so the hamsters themselves get a makeover. You learned to love them because of their baggy clothes and endearingly chubby dances—à la Weird Al's "Fat" video—but here they work hard to develop a new image, and end up fitting into much more stylish attire.
Normally, an ad like this would use the Rocky theme, or maybe "Eye of the Tiger." But this one is set to Lady Gaga's new single "Applause," and it will have a well-timed TV premiere connected to the song—a 60-second version will debut on Sunday's Video Music Awards following Gaga’s first-ever live performance of it. Perhaps she'll even show up in a hamster suit. (The spot will also reach cinemas. The 90-second web version is below.)
"The hamsters always have their paws on the pulse of pop culture," says Colin Jeffery, D&G's executive creative director, who directed the latest spot. (Even the PR around these ads is required to be cheesy.) "With the help of Lady Gaga, some current fashion trends and our friends at MPC VFX, we introduce a sleeker, sexier and more sophisticated Soul. The hamsters don't look too shabby themselves."
Hopefully they'll put the weight back on before the next ad. This is a campaign that will stay cool by being the opposite.
Scroll down to see photos from the shoot.
Client: Kia Soul
Spot: "Totally Transformed"
Agency: David&Goliath, Los Angeles
Chief Creative Officer: David Angelo
Executive Creative Director: Colin Jeffery
CD/Copywriter: Gary DuToit
CD/Art Director: Eron Broughton
ACD/Copywriter: Greg Buri
ACD/Art Director: Basil Cowieson
ACD/Art Director: Kriss Grove
Executive Producer, Managing Director: Carol Lombard
Executive Producer: Paul Albanese
Managing Partner, Client Services: Brian Dunbar
Group Account Director: Brook Dore
Account Director: Justin Manfredi
Account Supervisor: Nancy Ramirez
Account Executive: Kammie Dons
Associate Strategic Planning Director: Steven Garcia
Sr. Planner: Armando Potter
Production Company: @radical.media
Director: Colin Jeffery
Executive Producer: Frank Scherma
Producer: Kathy Rhodes
Director of Photography: Toby Irwin
Production Designer: Brock Houghton
Wardrobe Stylist: Christina Blackaller
Special EFX: Legacy Effects
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Angus Wall
Executive Producer: CL Weaver
Producer: Toby Louie
Assistant Editor: Austyn Daines
Post Production: MPC
VFX Supervisor/ 3-D Lead: Andy Boyd
Compositing Supervisor: Jake Montgomery
Animation Lead: Stew Burris
Animator/Rigger: Ian Wilson
Animator: Jean-Dominique Fievet
Lighter: William Schilthuis
Lighter: Shaun Comly
Texture: Hayley O'Neil
Modeler: Aaron Hamman
3-D FX: Charles Trippe
Tracking: Mike Wynd
Compositor: Jason Heinz
Compositor: Brendan Smith
Smoke Artist: Mark Holden
Telecine: Mark Gethin
Executive Producer: Asher Edwards
VFX Producer: Nicole Fina
Record Label: Interscope Records
Artist: Lady Gaga
Sound Design: Hammers Project
Sound Designer: Johannes Hammers
Music Editing: Massive Music
Audio Mix: Margarita Mix
Mixer: Nathan Dubin
Magazine Covers Courtesy of:
Wired / Condé Nast
Rolling Stone / Wenner Media LLC
Men's Health / Rodale