No, it's not a hamster or a HAMSTAR, but the latest ad for the 2012 Kia Sorento crossover SUV does feature a funky cast of characters.

The life-size versions of popular children's characters starring in the Joyride 2 ad include Muno from YO GABBA GABBA!, My Own Dream Studio's Sock Monkey, MR. X from the BLABLA KIDS Collection, a vintage robot and a teddy bear.

Why is Kia using these kids' characters instead of the tried and true award-winning hamsters? Kia is going after a different demographic with the 2012 Sorento. Kia Motors America's (KMA) public relations responded, "The hamsters are unique to the Kia Soul campaign. The Joyride characters are back to reach different audiences, including contemporary parents, young families and couples."

David&Goliath, Kia Motors America's (KMA) cutting-edge ad agency, created this and the original campaign, Joyride Dream. The new spot also features the song Red Light Love by Those Darlins, recently named a "Band to Watch" by Rolling Stone magazine.

Apparently, good marketing moves vehicles. Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing & communications, KMA, notes, "The Sorento has been Kia's best-selling vehicle in the US every month since arriving in showrooms in January 2010 thanks in large part to the immense popularity of the original Joyride Dream campaign."

"In just its second model year, the 2012 Sorento delivers significant performance and efficiency improvements as well as new convenience features that meet the ever changing needs of today's consumers, and bringing back the popular Joyride crew allows us to continue our momentum in a fun and entertaining way."

And a last note to all of those contemporary parents (and would be car buyers) who might be swayed by a kid's concert: Kia Motors is sponsoring another 50-city tour of YO GABBA GABBA! LIVE: Let's Dance this September.

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Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on

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