Gigantic mutant rodents that caused a viral sensation in 2009 through 2012 as they drove Kia Souls in television commercials. Standing up to six feet tall, and weighing in at an incredible 63 pounds (estimated), these adorable furry freaks of nature turned out not only to be aficionados of urban crossover compact vehicles, but musical tastemakers (soul, hip hop, electronica) and quite accomplished breakdancers.
The Soul hamsters first appeared in a 60-second spot in 2009, entitled "A New Way to Roll," rolling down the windows of their new Kia Soul to share their music with the rest of hamster society.
In 2010, "This or That" featured the hamsters not only getting funky as they drove the streets of the inner city, but lip-syncing to hip-hop. By 2011, their popularity led them to release their own line of clothing, Hamstar®, which they had worn in their last video, and would again in the new "Share Some Soul," a spot in which they taught the armor clad troops and giant mecha war machines of the future to shuffle to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."
2012 found the hamsters interacting for the first time with humans, albeit humans in an opera house in the year 1799, in "Bringing Down the House." Apparently their Kia Soul has time travel as one its features (it is not clear if it is standard or an aftermarket modification).
The Soul hamsters are the brainchild of David&Goliath, an independent creative agency hired by Kia to boost the image of the Soul for its target market, Generation Y. The commercials have won numerous awards, and increased awareness of the brand.
It should be pointed out that at no point in these advertisements do the hamsters say a word about the car's features. (They do hold up their iPod to show that it connects to the dashboard).
Hamster costumes were made by Legacy Effects (the company created by Stan Winston), with bluescreen covering the actors faces, hands, and legs. CG models of hamsters created by Framestore for the first two commercials, and Method Studios for the next two, are then applied over the actors. (The non-"Soul" hamsters in the background, those not hip enough to have chosen a Kia, are completely CG).
David&Goliath press release, "David&Goliath Delivers Third Integrated Campaign for Kia Soul During MTV Video Music Awards ," August 29, 2011. <http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/david-goliath-launches-third-integrated-campaign-kia-soul-during-mtv-video-music-awards-1554646.htm> (November 27, 2012)
David&Goliath press release, "David&Goliath Delivers Fourth Integrated Campaign for Kia Soul," August 30, 2012. <http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/david-goliath-delivers-fourth-integrated-campaign-for-kia-soul-1696147.htm> (November 27, 2012)
Framestore. "Framestore Creates CG Rodent Rappers for Kia," <http://www.framestore.com/work/kia-soul-or> (November 28, 2012)
Jean Halliday, "Kia's Hip-Hop Hamsters Are Baack!" Forbes,
August 30, 2012.
(November 27, 2012)
Alex Konrad, "How hamsters became Kia's killer salesmen." CNN Money, July 2, 2010. <http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/02/news/companies/kia_hamsters_advertising.fortune/index.htm> (November 27, 2012)