Who knew hamsters could be so cocky? Take a look at the thuggish, ruggish rodents in this ad for the Kia Soul:
Seriously, this commercial cracks me up. That's partly because I have a thing for cute, anthropomorphic animals, but it's also because I love the absurdity of three hamsters getting gangsta in their Kia. I mean, the genius of :40-:42 alone... with H-Tweezy in the backseat, popping his head from side to side, tapping his paw to the dance beat while a light in the car door flashes in time. Not even RuPaul has this much self-confidence. Don't these hamsters realize they're hamsters?
But that's just it, right? This commercial is funny because it's so disproportionate. Hamsters are little animals. We dominate them so completely that we build their worlds for them, shooing them through mazes of plastic tubes and then clapping when they run. Therefore, seeing a hamster behave like a bad-ass is so audacious that it's funny.
You have to like a creature that refuses to acknowledge the lowly station we've given it... that instead envisions itself as the king of the hip-hop highway.
That brazen, endearing confidence also extends to the hamsters' ride. Because really... a Kia? Is almost like the hamster of cars. Or at the very least, it's not the first thing you picture when someone says "pimpmobile."
In this commercial, however, the Kia Soul is presented as the only vehicle in the world that doesn't breed rodent-in-a-wheel conformity. Those hamster wheels we see on the road could be Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, whatever. The point is, they're not Kias, so by this ad's standards, they're lame.
Again, you have to admire a car company that refuses to accept the less-than-ferocious image the public imposes on it. That attitude is scrappy. It's cool.
So let's say I'm a middle-class American who can't afford a luxury car, but I can afford a Kia Soul that starts at under $14,000. I may realize I'm not driving a champagne vehicle, but this ad encourages me not to care. This ad encourages me to raise my bottle of sparkling white grape juice out of my moonroof and wave it side to side like it's a damn magnum of Cristal.
In other words, the ad encourages a perceptual shift in which "little guys" like hamsters, Kias, and the middle class embrace their ability to be awesome. There's a knowing joke in there---you can't take yourself that seriously if you're rolling in Lil' Hammy's whip---but that lightheartedness is just another badge of confidence. If you drive a Kia Soul, the commercial tells us, then you know yourself, love yourself, and get down with yourself. If consumers buy the message, then Kia's sales could explode. Middle class affordability could be hipper than ever.
Too bad I don't need a car in New York City and that my building won't let me have pets. Otherwise, I would be hosting the hamster grand prix up in here, featuring some totally souped up Kia Souls. Word.
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