As Ford prepares to launch the Fiesta compact, competitor Kia -- which relaunched the Soul last month -- is preparing a second assault on the young compact-car buyer with a grassroots effort aligned with the Vans Warped Tour and a new social-media program on Facebook.
The latter involves a mash-up program using the hamsters from the new "This or That" ad campaign and the online gaming page PetVille, where players can take care of virtual pets. The program lets Facebook users make mash-ups -- self-edited versions using a cut-and-paste program -- of the ad and then share their creations with friends.
Michael Sprague, VP marketing at Kia, said in a statement that a tie-in with the game made sense. Kia's ad agency, David & Goliath, introduced the hamsters last year for the Soul launch. The theme returned in a sustaining campaign this spring with an urban theme set to Black Sheep's "This or That" song, with the Hamsters as urban hip-hop artists.
"The immense popularity of the latest Kia Soul ad, especially with the Gen Y crowd, made it an obvious fit for the popular PetVille game," said Sprague, adding that the hamsters have "already been well received on Facebook and in social media, and we felt that integrating with Zynga's PetVille was the perfect platform to introduce the vehicle and the brand to new consumers in Soul's target demographic."
The program, which runs through July, puts a "This or That" icon at the bottom of PetVille's game page. Clicking on it launches the ad, which users can edit. Participants get PetVille cash in return for their interaction.
This will also be Kia's third summer sponsoring the tour, which features 150 bands and visits 40 U.S. cities. Kia will use its status as "Official Vehicle of the 2010 Vans Warped Tour" to tout the Soul, Forte Koup and the 2011 -- completely redesigned -- version of the Sportage.
The Irvine, Calif.-based sibling of Hyundai Motor says it will host on-site events and activities, including a "Soul Lounge." Sprague says the tour will include a live DJ, autograph sessions, stage-side access wristbands and opportunities for attendees to meet band members of groups who are part of the tour.
Kia will also sponsor a solar-powered stage and "The Warped Word of Steve" blog at fuse.tv/kiawarped. KMA is also dangling a new Kia Soul in as part of its "A New Way to Roll" sweepstakes.