Editor's Note: Since we published this story, Kia removed the ad and seemingly scrubbed all evidence of its existence from the internet. So, unfortunately, you can't watch the video we had embedded here in all its gloomy, edgy, biker-threatening glory. At least we'll always have that screencap to remember it by - JM.
Kia’s come a long way in a short time. Just a few years ago, its hip-hop hamster ad campaign for the Soul was seemingly everywhere. People drew fanart of it, it racked up advertising awards, and Kia even made official merch featuring the family-friendly mascots. What does this have to do with motorcycles, you’re wondering? We’re about to get to that, and unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as cuddly as a group of cute, furry, tracksuit-clad anthropomorphic animals.
In May, 2021, Kia released a new 30-second ad spot that purportedly touts the new Lane Keeping Assist feature available in the current Kia Soul. To demonstrate how well it works, the driver in the video nearly runs a motorcyclist off the road. That’s it. That’s the actual ad. It’s not a case of misinterpretation on my or anyone else’s part who’s upset about this. This isn’t a case of “well, it’s all a matter of perspective.” There is, quite simply, no other way to view this video if you watch it.
Never mind, for a moment, the states and countries in which lane splitting, lane sharing, or some other variation on that theme are perfectly legal actions for riders to take. This ad quite blatantly centers around a Kia Soul driver taking in the information the Lane Keeping Assist feature is feeding him. He looks down at his instrument panel (always a great idea when you’re driving, but what do I know?). Finally, he aggressively makes a move to block a rider asking to merge into his lane, based on that information.
As one YouTube commenter asked, “Great ad, Kia. What’s the next one? A driver accelerating as they approach a crosswalk full of children?” We know the pandemic changed a lot of us in many ways, but Kia, what happened to you? The hamsters wouldn’t want this. No one wants this. This is terrible, and you need to get your money back from whatever ad agency dreamed this disgusting disaster up.
Yes, we know controversy makes the world go round, and this ad will no doubt get you attention. Is this really the kind of attention you want, though? Does no one at Kia or its ad agencies ride motorbikes, or have family and friends who do? Somehow, I doubt that very much. Congratulations on encouraging drivers to actively mow down people you probably know, Kia, because we’re everywhere. I guarantee the riders among your ranks see exactly how disposable you think they are.
Special thanks to our colleague John Flores for tipping us off.