Before you read anything I have to say, please stop reading my post and watch the latest commercial for the Kia Soul, if you haven’t seen it already. (Hint: the hamsters are back).
Now, that’s what I call swag marketing.
Let me start by saying I’m not usually a big fan of ads. I’ve rolled my eyes at more commercials than I can count, but this one actually makes me proud to be a marketing major. While Kia’s newest ad hasn’t sparked a huge #hashtag trend or meme craze online, it has initiated some interesting conversations in social media circles.
Interestingly enough, Kia execs noted a substantial difference in reactions to the ad by fans on Twitter vs. Facebook. Tweets about the ad were overwhelmingly positive; one user even touted it as being better than Lady Gaga’s actual music video for “Applause.” (Side note: Just watched it to see if I agreed. No idea what the hell I just saw. Classic Gaga).
Facebook fans, on the other hand, proved to be much more critical of the hamsters’ new look, arguing that hamsters are supposed to be round and fluffy, and urging Kia to bring the “real” hamsters back. (Update: 24 hours after I took this screenshot, Kia actually removed this photo from their Facebook page).
Did such a distinct disparity in opinion arise by chance, or because of the differences between nature of Facebook and Twitter? It’s interesting to think that there may be certain social media sites that lend themselves more easily to positive or negative reactions to marketing campaigns. I’m not sure if Kia’s case is enough evidence for such a claim, but it’s certainly something to think about.
Skinny vs. fat frustrations aside, it’s worth pointing out the marketing lessons to be learned from Kia’s creativity, here:
1. Make us laugh. Out loud.
Getting people to literally LOL is not easy to do these days, especially in the advertising space. I can honestly say I laughed out loud the first three times I saw Kia’s ad, and honest humor is one of the best ways to engage a consumer. Laughing makes us feel like we’re participating, so let us in on the joke! Just make sure it’s funny.
2. Sex still sells (but don’t push it).
There’s a significant difference between briefly showing women in yoga class and subjecting your viewers to the most-awkward-kiss-of-all-time (Thanks for that, GoDaddy). In other words, keep it classy. Kia pulled it off well with this commercial—so well, in fact, that fans started talking about how sexy hamsters are, never mind the cute girls working out at the gym.
3. Be weird. We like it.
Lady Gaga knows it. Kia knows it. Weird is the new cool. So create something that will make us call our best friend and say “Holy $#@%! Have you seen this?” Show us anthropomorphic animals. Show us a baby talking about stocks. Show us a man on a boat/horse holding Old Spice. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get a little weird. As long as it’s relatable, we’ll tweet it/post it/probably make a Halloween costume out of it.
Kia has had its hamsters doing it all, from driving toasters, to breakin’ it down to “Party Rock Anthem” mid-battle in a Halo game…there’s no doubt that Kia’s Soul campaign has embraced the brilliance of being weird.
What do you think? Is weird the best way to spread the word in marketing campaigns? When have you seen weird go too far? When was it spot on?
This post is dedicated to my only childhood pet—Pepino—our family hamster, who passed away in 2005. I’m sorry all we ever gave you was a wheel, when you probably could’ve used a treadmill.