Ad of the Day: Kia’s Hamsters, as You’ve Never Seen Them Before

How can ads that are so dumb be so good?

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.

CREDITS

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: Kristian Grove Møller

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: Clement