Three vehicles - the Kia Soul, Chevrolet Cruze and Jeep Wrangler - are among America's 25 hottest brands that "sizzle from strong sales, big buzz, savvy marketing," according to Advertising Age. Among other products on the magazine's list are Warby Parker eyewear, Malt-O-Meal cereal, Arizona Tea and Chegg, which rents college textbooks. Advertising Age, like Automotive News, is published by Crain Communications Inc.
Remember the Kia Sephia? Kia would prefer that you didn't. The '90s weren't particularly kind to Korean carmakers. A reputation for shoddy quality didn't help draw U.S. buyers to Kia or its sibling brand, Hyundai. But what a difference longer-than-average warranties, loads of standard equipment, sexy styling and a few hamsters can make.
While Hyundai raised awareness this year with its revamped mid-sized Sonata and compact Elantra, Kia stole the spotlight with its hamster spots using computer generated imagery for the Soul compact hatchback. The TV spots, created by David & Goliath of Los Angeles, were awarded Automotive Ad of the Year by Nielsen Automotive Advertising. In September Motor Trend placed the dancing creatures' "Share Some Soul" video for the 2012 model on its chart of top auto video spots, with 5.4 million views that month.
"We knew that the car would skew young, and we wanted to do something significantly different," said Colin Jeffery, who led the creative team that developed the three hamster spots. One idea, he said, was "to reflect how people go through the daily grind ... round and round." Like hamsters.
The funky, boxy Soul has been a success since its debut in 2009, pushing the buttons of its target audience of budget buyers and young families with upmarket sound systems, robust engines and good fuel economy. And sales figures are indicative of a continued climb, at least through year end. Through November, Kia tallied 442,102 vehicles sold, with the Soul accounting for 92,643 of those.