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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Hamsters, hucksters and holidays.

by on May.28, 2010

Kia Responds to Public Demand: Soul’s Hamsters Return

The hip-hop Kia hamsters are making their return.

Those hip-hop hamsters are back.  But we’ll get to the news in a moment.

People either like or dislike television commercials. There’s no such a thing as just okay, all right or average.  Black or white, nothing gray.

The first Kia Soul commercial, (Click Here) became a hit with consumers, said Michael Sprague, the Korean maker’s vice president of marketing, in a phone interview, “It generated over three million total YouTube hits and garnered more Facebook fans than any of its segment competitors.”

I followed up with the question “Is a social network hit equal to the Washington politico saying that every phone, call, letter or email is tantamount to receiving 1,000 calls?”  Sprague’s response was, “Yes!”  Now that’s big time.

The advertising research and creative communities liked it too. It has won major accolades for Kia, whose  advertising agency, David&Goliath, created the first commercial.  Among the kudos: Nielsen’s Top Automotive Ad of the Year, awarded at the 2010 New York Auto Show, and based on direct feedback from consumers. Next month Kia will receive a prestigious Effie Award. High praise indeed.

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Praise however is measured in terms of sales, right?  Sprague noted Kia introduced the Soul, their first car truly aimed at GenY during the worst auto year in history, with an economy in the ceramic receptacle, yet the Soul became the market share leader in its segment in only its second month on sale, and sold more cars than its two chief competitors every month thereafter. The campaign exceeded internal sales goals by over 30%.” Enuf said.

As a former ad guy I had to find out more ‘cause I knew presenting much less selling an idea like this had to be easier said than done.

A little back story

I asked Collin Jeffrey, David&Goliath’s creative director how difficult it was to sell such an out-of-the-box idea to Kia’s marketing team. “We knew the small boxy car category was filled with the usual auto ad detail, so we knew the Soul needed something unique and exclusive that would generate interest and be fun to watch.  Kia’s team responded with enthusiasm and interest,” hew recalls.

During a Kia event last summer in Seattle, a fellow auto journalist asked if Kia would bring back the hamsters in another commercial. Sprague remembered saying “no” to the question, but added “I’ll never say never again.”  In fact, TheDetroitBureau.com reported, during the New York Auto Show, that the Kia hamsters would make a comeback. ( Click Here for that exclusive report. )

The New Hamsters Commercial

Before commenting on the commercial, take just 60-seconds and Click Here to watch the TV and cinema commercial called “this and that. ”

This version launches today (May 28) in theaters across the nation, many showing the new “Sex and City 2” movie, a flick expected to be the number one hit of the holiday weekend and a huge chic-flick-date-movie.  Who says timing isn’t everything?

A 30-second version of the hip-hop Hamsters had a sneak preview Wednesday and Thursday nights on select cable networks. Officially, the new ad  campaign launches today on cables Comedy Central, Fuse, MTV, MTV2 and Spike, and runs through July. The little Kia spokescreatures will have a presence online at Pandora, Facebook, Social Vibe’s PetVille, KMA’s Kia.com. — and will anchor a YouTube contest.

The Production Process

From presentation of the concept to Kia to the ready-to-use commercial took thousands of hours and slightly over 4½ months to create. Extensive CGI, computer-generated graphics were used to create the “actors,” various scenes, backgrounds and other elements in the commercial. Amazing state-of-the-art technology was used – think a shorter version of Avatar – in the production.

Following is a list of credits from those individuals involved in the process:

David&Goliath
Chief Creative Officer: David Angelo
Executive Creative Director: Colin Jeffery
ACD / Art Director: Rodrigo Butori
Copywriter: Noah Phillips
Executive Producer, Managing Director: Carol Lombard
Executive Producer: Paul Albanese

Production Company:

Partizan
Director: Antoine Bardou Jacquet
Director of Photography: Guillermo Navarro
Executive Producer: Sheila Stepanek
Line Producer: Louis Saint-Calibre

Editing House:

Union Editorial
Editors: Jim Haygood (Union) and Bill Smedley (via Work Post – London)
Producer: Michael Romandi

Post Effects:

Frame Store London
Producer: Tim Keene

Dress like a Hamstar? Why not

Sartorially speaking, when ad agency creatives – not known for their taste in apparel — at D&G saw the clothing the hamsters were wearing, they had real apparel made in the same patterns and colors – but sized for human adults to wear. Now there is a full line of Hamster apparel that will be offered to the public in limited quantities.  How’s that for line extension via advertising? Click Here for more information.

The girls of Sex and the City are back, but this time, they won't be taking the subway.

“Sex and the City”…in a Mercedes?

As previously noted “Sex and the City 2” is predicted to become the hit of the Memorial Holiday weekend even with just so-so reviews.  But this is not a critic’s movie, it’s the follow-up to the hugely successful “Sex and the City” television franchise, which transformed into a movie two years ago.

Now it’s back with the original cast and whole host of product placements, cross tie-ins, contests, gimmicks and promotions. Leading the way was Mercedes-Benz whose Hollywood hyperbole filled release from noted, ““Sex and the City” ” style icons Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are back and the four friends remain true to their exclusive lifestyle as they escape from the city and find themselves embarking on adventures in the ultra-luxurious Maybach and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV. Back home in New York City, Mr. Big. keeps his S-Class, but moves to the new eco-friendly S400 Hybrid, and Carrie and Mr. Big embrace summer chic by heading to Connecticut behind the wheel of their all-new 2011 E-Class Cabriolet, which makes its own retail debut June 2010.

Naturally the tie-in is promoted and advertised in a variety of social media, micro-sites and   a contest at the Mercedes-Benz interactive ” Sex and the City” Facebook page.

Pass the popcorn please.

Remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day. Put an American flag on display.

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One Response to “Marty’s Marketing Minutia”

  1. mike says:

    A footnote to Marty’s story– “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” First four months of 2010, Kia Soul’s 16,074 sales topped the following would-be competitors: all three Scions combined, any VW except Jetta, Nissan Cube, Honda Fit, Honda Element and Chevy Aveo. It came close to beating the venerable Ford Explorer, hardly a competitor but once a very strong brand. Funny thing is, until reading Marty’s piece, I had never heard of, nor seen, a Kia Soul. It must be a West Coast thing.