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Roll over Beethoven! The Kia Hamsters are back

Roll over Beethoven, make room Mozart.  The Kia hamsters are back and they’re turning a serious, 17th Century ballet into a wild, 21st Century electronic dance party in their newest ad campaign for the popular Kia Soul.

Few official spokes…er…rodents have clicked with the car buying community as effectively as what the Korean carmaker likes to call its “hamstars.”  And their previous commercials have generated tens of millions of views on and elsewhere as they have gone viral like few other automotive ads.

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The latest spot will make its debut today on 18,000 movie screens across the U.S. and then appear on the MTV Video Music Awards on September 6th.

In typically irreverent fashion, the newest campaign has been titled “Bringing Down the House,” and is set in an 18th Century European opera house.  Set to the Axwell remix, “In My Mind,” it shakes up the staid surroundings by turning them into a very 21st Century electronic dance party.

Considering their success – and perhaps helping build their popularity — Kia has made surprisingly judicious use of the hamsters.  They made their first appearance to assist with the launch of the Soul, an “urban passenger vehicle,” three years ago.

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“Since the launch of the Soul in 2009, music has been a driving force in moving the Kia brand into the mainstream and connecting with consumers in a more relevant and conversational way,” said David Angelo, founder and chief creative officer, David&Goliath.  “Our theme line, ‘A new way to roll,’ enables us to always bring a fresh musical perspective to each Soul execution while staying current with the latest pop culture trends.”

The commercial – which Angelo calls “both musically and visually unexpected” – opens with the grandeur of an old MGM musical, though the Mozart-like conductor does have an odd gleam in his eye as he waves his baton to cue the orchestra and ballet dancers.  To the shock of everyone on-stage and off, a Kia Soul suddenly rises onto the set and the conductor rips off his mask to reveal he’s one of the hip-hop hamsters.  As might be expected, everyone in the house is busting moves by the time the spot fades to black.

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The Soul is just one of a number of “box-mobiles” that have been launched onto the U.S. market in recent years, but it has remained a strong seller despite the lackluster success of many competitive offerings and the steady decline of the once-hot Scion xB.

Kia overall has shown some of the biggest momentum of any brand in the U.S. market.  The hamsters have clearly helped, according to marketing analysts, though the Korean firm has been aggressively getting its message out in a variety of ways, including a costly NBA sponsorship.

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