The most recent Kia Soul commercial does its best at appealing to the consumers using several features. Using its well-known hamster mascots, the commercial takes place in an 18th Century opera house. During the whole commercial, we can see various signifiers such as the opera house, its upscale audience, hamsters, the Kia Soul product itself, etc. The commercial begins in a quiet and respected atmosphere as it should, but as the leading actress sings her part, Kia’s Soul appears on stage. Then the conductor takes off his mask to reveal its hamster identity and the opera house turns into a club with the help of other hamsters. In the final scene of the commercial, the hamsters drive off into space in their Soul, leaving the viewers with quick information about the price.

The first notable aspect of the commercial is the song that the leading actress sings. In the yet very serious setting of the stage, she sings the contemporary and popular song “In My Mind” by Ivan Gough. Here, we can see a clear target audience or social group the advertisement wishes to appeal to – the young, cool and trendy. We are able to see a definite contrast between the old fashioned, traditional audience who are startled and the young, fun, loud and modern leaders who guide into a “better” place. Such contrast is highlighted because “as audiences are fragmented into smaller and smaller market segments, the operative codes for each target group become more specialized” (Leiss et al, 165). As seen in the commercial where people quickly join the DJs and hamsters on the stage to engage in the exciting scene, the advertisement speaks to a particular social group while leaving out the traditional and reserved group.

Hence, the commercial adds several meanings to the product. The customer automatically associates the product with someone who likes the fast-paced, energetic music played, likes to attend parties and spend weekends like the hamster mascots, follow the modern, contemporary trends and live young. When we see the Kia Soul out in public, we wouldn’t expect a middle-aged office worker to be the owner. Instead, we will instantly think of someone who might be dressed as the hamsters or the young dancers on stage who encourage the older audience to join the party.

Another crucial feature of the commercial is the mascot. Here, product identity, which “associates the product with its function and…with its intended market” in incorporated (Schudson, 163). As a definite strategy to establish product identity, the Kia commercial uses personification; the hamsters are as big as humans and are dressed in hip-hop style. They are the initiators of the party-like environment and leaders of the current trend. In addition, these characters also appeal to the younger audience with humor as we see hamsters dancing and playing music. The selection of a hamster as the brand’s mascot not only appeal with humor but may also target more specifically women customers as the animal reminds the customer as something cute and adorable. As clearly present in the commercial, the product links to pleasant experiences and emotions by showing how happy and excited the people become after they start to dance, enjoy the party and live in the presence of Soul.

One possible alternative interpretation of the commercial could be that it leads the viewer to believe that operas are too serious, reserved, old-fashioned and mature for youths, but meanwhile it provides the opportunity to emphasize on the pros of being young and perky. Also, although the advertisement may leave out some social groups such as middle-aged men or housewives, it instead focuses very specifically on its desired audience using various strategies. Through personification, association, and the usage of various signifiers the brand successfully establishes a strong product identity.

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