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Kia Soul Wins the Hearts of Its Intended Young Consumers

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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 attract buyers to either Hyundai or its sibling Kia in the U.S. But what a difference longer-than-average warranties, loads of standard equipment, sexy styling and a few hamsters can make.

Colin Jeffery
Colin Jeffery

While Hyundai drastically raised awareness this year with its revamped Sonata and Elantra, Kia stole the spotlight with its CGI hamster spots for the Soul, which were created by David & Goliath, Los Angeles. The TV spots were awarded Automotive Ad of the Year by Nielsen Automotive Advertising, and in September Motor Trend placed the dancing creatures' "Share Some Soul" video for the 2012 model its chart of top auto video ads, 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 mileage. And sales figures are indicative of a continued climb, at least through the end of this year. Through October, Kia tallied 405,095 vehicles sold, with the Soul accounting for more than 85,000 of those, according to data from Automotive News.