The Cute Factor


Are these little guys cute enough for you to spend $14,000?

I first noticed the Kia Soul from its rather odd commercial. The typical car commercial shows features, crash test ratings, and financing options. Kia takes a different approach. The car looks remote controlled, the driver and passengers are hamsters and there is not much useful information contained in the commercial. What exactly is Kia getting at in this commercial?

We come to what I like to call, the cute factor. The cute factor has nothing to do with features or financing options and everything to do with a car that looks like it could only fit…hamsters?

So, what elements of this commercial fall into the cute factor category? Well, we can start at the beginning. The first thing the audience sees is what looks to be suburbia. Who lives in suburbia? White, middle-class folks–maybe the kind that buys cute Kia Souls for their daughters.

The perfect candidates for a Kia Soul purchase...

Suburbia also represents a sense of normality and comfort. Comfort is an important thing for a company to give to its potential customers. If someone feels uncomfortable with a product, he/she is most likely not going to buy it. The Soul commercial doesn’t show a lot of the car so what is there to be uncomfortable about? And, with those cute little hamsters running around everywhere, uncomfortable is probably the last thing someone is feeling (unless you have a hamster phobia of course).

After the suburbia scene, we are taken into the city where there are nothing but hamsters running on their hamster wheels. This is meant to represent the difference between the Kia Soul and every other car on the street. Kia is saying that all cars on the road are the same except the Soul. I would have to agree seeing as how I don’t know a lot of cars that can be driven by hamsters… Anyways, we get the point. Don’t be the same as everybody else. Or even, don’t be as predictable as a hamster when buying a car. In other words, choose something that is out of the ordinary and unique. The next thing we see is the cute factor grand finale. A little red car pulls up to reveal three little hamsters jamming out to some tunes (cue “awwww”s here). All the hamsters have facial expressions that make it seem like they are having fun. The music in the background is upbeat as well, contributing to the good mood that Kia is trying to pass along to the viewers. The color of the car is also very important. Females tend to prefer warmer colors such as red. Red can also represent love–girls will love this cute little red car with dancing hamsters driving it.

It is not until the end of the commercial that the audience is explicitly informed that the spectacle they just witnessed was in fact a car commercial. The cute factor grabs attention and the peculiar sight of hamsters driving a car creates a unique experience that is sure to stick in viewer’s head. Kia uses upbeat music, dancing hamsters and a cute little red car to try and disassociate the seriousness that comes with buying a vehicle.


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