30 November 2010

WTF, Hamsters?

I spent the last two days in bed, sick with what feels like strep but isn't strep. (Doctor: The good news is... it's not strep! The bad news is... I can give you a prescription for cough drops and tea and you're going to be sick all week. Sucka!) (Okay, she didn't really say 'sucka,' she was actually super nice and sympathetic, but still. Sucka.)

The point is: sick. And because I've been sick, I've watched more hours of tv in the last two days than I have in months. And because I watch tv on my laptop, I only get to see like three commercials, and I see them over and over and over again.

For example, I have seen this stupid Kia commercial like 600 times in the last two days, and I've had a lot of time to think about it. And after all that thinking, I have a couple of questions.

First of all, WTF??

So the commercial starts innocently enough, with a funky Digable Planets-type groove and a shot of two hooded rapper figures:

Kickin' it 1991 style

But then the camera spins around and the cool rappers pull back their hoods to reveal hamster heads.




Okay, this might not be surprising to you, because apparently these hamsters have been on tv for a while now. I don't watch a ton of tv, so I've been happily sheltered from these creeper hamsters. Or maybe I've even seen them before and just not registered them because I didn't have to watch the same effing hamster commercial 600 times in a row. By the time the crazy speeding baby commercial came on I was practically cheering just to see something new.

Anyway, the hamsters. They're hip hop hamsters, you see, and they have to greet their DJ friends:

Whut up, Hamster?

It turns out they live on Hamsterdam Avenue. OBVIOUSLY. The first time I saw the commercial I was like WHAT? WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?? But by the sixth or seventh I caught this street sign, which explains everything.

Ohhhhhh, Hamsterdam Ave! WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?

And there's this guy, who I actually dig. What is up with you, drummer hamster?

One stoned little hamster

Finally, after 18 seconds of establishing Hamsterland rapper shots, the commercial finally gets around to mentioning its product: a Kia. OHHHH, this is a CAR COMMERCIAL. How did I miss that before?? OF COURSE THE RAPPING HAMSTERS ARE SELLING A CAR.

Yo yo yo, we be driving the Kiaz. Also, WE ARE HAMSTERS.

So once the commercial finally gets around to making its point, it immediately begins to hammer you over the head with it. You see, according to the rapping hamsters, "The choice is yours. You can get with this, or you can get with that." In this instance, "this" is a Kia...

You can get with this...

...while "that" is a TOASTER.

...or you can get with that.

Really? Those are my choices?

You can have a car...

...or you can have a toaster.


...or toaster. THOSE ARE YOUR CHOICES.

I was talking about this in my class tonight, and one of my students pointed out that in the original hamster commercials, the cool hamsters drove a Kia, and the lame hamsters drove around in hamster wheels. This made some sense to her, and she thought it was cute and clever.

Because I had watched this commercial 600 times, I knew that there were some hamster wheels in the background somewhere:

If we have to choose between a stinky old wheel and walking, WE CHOOSE WALKING

But WAIT! There's another option! You can get with this...

Yes, yes, it's a Kia.

Or you can get with that:

A box.

A BOX?!?!?! I have to choose between a Kia and a box somewhat half-heartedly decorated to look like a hotrod bus?

Okay, next choice. This commercial begins to feel a little like the optometrist's office. A or B? A.... or B? One or two? One.... or two?

Except usually the difference is really slight and you're kind of just doing your best to choose the slightly clearer lens, whereas here your options are a car or A BOX. Would you like to drive a thing that drives, or A BOX?

You want more options? How about this one:


...or washing machine on wheels?


Washing Machine: Does not come with cool stereo. OR DRIVING CAPABILITY.

I think it was at this point that the commercial really lost me. Because I've had hamsters, and you know, it's kind of funny to put them on things and pretend they're driving them. Normal children might put the hamster in, I don't know, something that actually drives, but I could see putting the hamster in a funny box that looks like a car, or maybe even on a toaster if you were the kind of child who didn't consider the part where the hamster will poop into the same place where you cook your pop-tarts.

But a washing machine?? NO. No child would ever put their hamster into a washing machine and pretend it's driving because IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY EFFING SENSE.

But don't tell that to this guy...

Whaaaaaaaa? You mean I don't have to drive A WASHING MACHINE ON WHEELS?

Should you choose the car?

Or the box? (Hint: DON'T CHOOSE THE BOX!)

Car? Or toaster?

Fine, Kia. You've got me. If I can ONLY choose between a Kia and a toaster, I WILL CHOOSE THE DAMN KIA.

Are you happy now, Kia? Given the choice between driving a thing that drives and driving a thing that doesn't drive, I choose the thing that drives!


Seriously though, Kia. In the immortal words of Bring It On, "I define being the best as competing against the best there is out there and beating them."

See, normally in a commercial, you would set out to prove that you are better than any other car out there, not any other household appliance. So yes, if the competition is between a Kia and a BOX, I will choose the Kia.


If the competition were between, say, a Kia driven by hamsters and a Toyota DRIVEN BY HUMAN BEINGS, I would choose the Toyota.

A car for humans! JUST LIKE ME!

But wait. This isn't just a car driven by humans, it's a car driven by humans who are looking for their runaway dog!

A car for humans with squeaky toys! JUST LIKE ME!!

A car for humans whose runaway dog is dig dig digging in the neighbor's yard! JUST LIKE ME!!!

A car for humans whose runaway dog is a naughty german shorthair pointer!?!? JUST LIKE ME!!!!

You see how that works, Kia? Give me a commercial I can relate to, and I will be all over it. So if I can get with this, or I can get with that?



[carlsonp] said...

You quoted Bring it On, Molly?! That warms my heart.

Sarah B. said...

Molly, this is hysterical. I guess what really baffles me is that by juxtaposing a car with a toaster and saying "you can get with this...or that" you are sort of likening one to the other, which is not exactly complimentary to the car. I mean, I might say to my son, "You can have broccoli...or carrots." They're both vegetables. Or to my students, "You can write a villanelle...or a sonnet." Both poems. But a car and a toaster? Does this mean the Kia has the power of the toaster? Is as roomy as a toaster? What's the benefit of this comparison? Thanks for making me laugh out loud. -Sarah

Jen M. said...

Hilarious. I keep it real in my monster toaster, fo' sho'.

Tabitha said...

This is flippin' HILARIOUS!!! I mean, it was funny in class, but you have outdone yourself here. My sides are hurting from laughing so hard!

MBB said...

If I were to choose between owning a car that actual talking, walking, and rapping hamsters drove and a boring old Toyota, I would choose the hamstermobile. It's got the street cred, where the boring old car-for-humans does not have.

You make it seem like these kinds of situations don't happen all that often. Just the other day I was shopping for gloves in a department store, and when I reached the rack of gloves and I thought to myself--you know, I could either buy these gloves that will keep my hands warm, or I could buy the bag of rubber bands sitting next to the register at check out. Rubber bands.... gloves.... rubber bands....gloves.

It was a difficult choice but I finally went with function over form and chose the gloves.

J.Tuttle said...

Tabitha shared your post with me and it was so hysterical, I had tears streaming out of the corners of my eyes!

Natalie's Mom said...


You missed the point entirely. The kia looks like a toaster, a box and has small hampster wheels. The box, toaster and hampster wheels are to make you realize how cool a kia is, because of course you can actually drive the kia. Thus making the childhood car that you drew on a box with crayons, attached the toaster for a shiny engine and hampster wheel wheels has now become a true reality! You no longer need to run through the house with a cardboard box, no you and the hampsters can own your own box/toaster/with hampster wheels car! Like a dream come true!

Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

Hi Molly *waves* I know you haven't posted in awhile but I was just at an agents site and came across your upcoming novel due for 2012 and was curious about it!!! I wondered, do you have website, twitter or something that I could check out more about it?!

Feel free to shoot me an email at jenniferdaiker(at)gmail(dot)com so we can chat!

Scott said...

Guys! For goodness sake it's so obvious why they're riding around in a box, a washer and a toaster.

They're mocking their competitors. Toyota Scion. Honda Element. Nissan Cube. They're comparing them to a lame box, washer and toaster and making fun of them, while pointing out that their comparable model is cool and hip.

This was apparent to me the first or second time I watched the commercial. It's marketing genius... it's cute, it's cuddly, memorable, and it's got a great "buy our car, not the competition" message!

Anonymous said...

As an owner of a Kia Soul, I have to say it was the awesome handling, outstanding gas mileage and industry best safety ratings (along with reasonable price) that convinced me to buy... not the feeling that I was getting something much better than a toaster.

But then a letter arrived saying I needed to immediately make a service appointment - because the door speakers were problematic and could burst into flames. (What industry found this to be a top rated safety feature?) Anyhow... that's when I realized the car is more like a toaster than I ever would have guessed. You can have this (burnt legs) or you have that (burnt bread).

Thanks for making me laugh!