Ad Today – Breakthrough with the weird


Remember this commercial from Kia?  I remembered hating it.  Who wants to see rats on TV?  (Sorry, I mean hamsters.)

Let’s fast forward to today.

I see the hamsters, and I immediately whose commercial it is.  TV commercials are typically no longer than 30 seconds.  So, they need to communicate everything they want to say in that time.  So, if a brand be recognized visually and immediately, it saves time.  That’s branding.

Today, you see the hamsters on TV, you immediately know it’s Kia.  You may ask, so what?  What are hamsters telling me about the car?  It’s not about that.  It’s about keeping Kia on the top of your mind.  It’s about raising brand awareness.  Because, the truth is, more likely than not, you’re not currently in the market for a car.  You probably have a car already, and for the moment happy with it.  Or you’re a teenager and you haven’t taken your first driver’s lesson yet.  So, you’re not in the market.

But, the moment you are.  You know Kia.  That brand is familiar to you.  Then, you’ll go proactively find out everything about Kia all on your own.  You’re going to check out their websites.  You’re going to check out online reports.  You’re going to check out Kelley Blue Book.  You’re going to check out Consumer Reports.  You’re going to visit the dealership.  You are going to do everything to find out information about Kia, information that wouldn’t have fit in a 30 second commercial.

That’s why I now love the hamsters.  You see the hamsters, you think Kia.

As much as I love them now, I really didn’t like them before.  But that’s why the whole campaign idea was so genius!  I had long believe that negative reaction from the public is not always a bad thing.  That’s particularly true for a small brand.  When the hamsters hit the scene, Kia was basically a small brand.  The hamsters generated buzz because it was something different from the norm.  It verged on weird!

But hamsters don’t own weird.  E-trade baby comes to mind… The trick of successfully being weird is to have an evolution plan for moving forward.  You can’t be a one-hit wonder!  You can’t put out a weird concept that you cannot evolve.  Once you have the plan, you have to have the follow through.  It would have been easy for Kia to pull the plug on the hamsters and say it was a stupid idea. But they didn’t. They stayed the course.  Now, they reap the fruit.

You can leverage weird to breakthrough the clutter.  But you have to have a plan.  On top of it, you have to have the discipline to stay on the plan.  A carefully cultivated weird can be a great element to a brand building campaign.

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