Hyundai's New Approach For Super Bowl

HyundaiHyundai Motor America (HMA) will be in the Super Bowl with three spots. Well -- one of them is actually airing seconds before kickoff, in that stealth position right after viewers have rushed to the bathroom, grabbed another handful of chips and a beer, and hunkered down for the first quarter. The best spot is, of course, the first slot in the first break during the game, but that is also much more expensive. And Hyundai's pre-kickoff ad certainly aims to stoke the fires of enthusiasm and strum the strings of anticipation rather than bogging things down with a vehicle pitch. How is Hyundai doing this? I can't say. 

The automaker has been in the Super Bowl for the past five years, but what's different this time is Hyundai's creative tone, which is more about entertainment than anthemic statements about history and corporate milestones, and salutary discourses on truth versus perception, product benefits, brand value propositions and the like.

Part of that has to do with the vehicle getting the spotlight in the campaign: the turbocharged version of the fun-and-flexibility-focused Veloster three-door, which launched in the fourth quarter last year. As Hyundai has moved decidedly up market with vehicles like Genesis and the Equus luxury sedan, the Veloster represents the automaker's first offering since the discontinued Tiburon coupe intended as a brand entrance point for younger consumers looking for a do-everything car.

"It's really a different approach this year," says Steve Shannon, HMA's VP of marketing. "In the past we looked at what cars we were launching, did the normal launch work and then decided which had earned its weight. This time we decided to do Super Bowl spots -- branded entertainment."

It might seem at first blush an odd choice to use the Super Bowl for a higher-performance variant, since such vehicles tend to be maybe a fifth of total nameplate sales volume. However, Shannon tells Marketing Daily that the Turbo Veloster will probably constitute 50% of sales or more based on availability. He says the car's value proposition -- a little over $2,000 for 100 more horses, a slick body kit, and a minor sacrifice in mileage -- will make it a mainstream draw.

The fact that the company is launching two performance variants -- the Veloster Turbo and the souped-up Genesis Spec-R coupe -- makes a performance pitch on a big stage a legitimate way to appeal to younger males, "who watch the Super Bowl and not a lot of other television," says Shannon.

I have to be mum on ad creative, but will say that the 60-second pre-kickoff spot harkens back to an exhortation to corporate troops favored by the Korean automaker's ’60's-era chairman: "Have you tried?" The spot doesn't actually use that line, but viewers will instantly recognize the theme nonetheless. Actor Jeff Bridges is still the voiceover in the ads, but the voiceover is toned down.

Shannon says the pre-game buy has the benefit of being less expensive than in-game buys. And he says Hyundai will release the spots online before game day.

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