Hyundai: Heard Of The Claret Jug? Equus Is For You

Hyundai is rolling out the update of its flagship Equus sedan, which is loaded with new features that the company hasn’t had before, and is hoping will help grab the attention of affluent consumers used to the tri-star and the bifurcated grill. 

Hyundai Motor America is bringing the new Equus to life with a marketing campaign that has affluent folks and others -- including kids at a lemonade stand and a mounted police officer -- asking “What kind of...?” The media component of the first phase of the campaign, via AOR Innocean U.S.A., focuses on the crown jewel of the golf world: the British Open. 

The new(ish) Equus, which just went on sale, has first-mover status among premium luxury brands in a number of tech areas -- most notably for making a raft of safety technologies standard; blind spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert, for example. There's also Hyundai's first heads-up display that includes blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, smart cruise control, and turn-by-turn navigation. 

"We found a strong demand for blind-spot perception," says Brandon Ramirez, product manager at the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based company. "While in 2011 66% wanted heads-up display, 77% want it this year. There were three things we focused on: safety, premium amenities and design." He tells Marketing Daily that the automaker looked at a lot of research. "Luxury owners buy a vehicle because of safety. That was key."

The car also adds 19-inch wheels that have a jet-turbine motif. Another unique: the face-lifted Equus has rear-seat navigation options accessible via a center-armrest console, that also operates an autonomous rear-seat climate control. And there's a credit-card like keycard that automatically unlocks the door and opens the side mirrors when the owner approaches. 

Ramirez explains that the campaign positions the car as a luxury vehicle that people recognize as such, while also being surprised and a little mystified about just who makes it. The market research that drives the ad was, in part, that Equus owners get that “What is that?” question a lot, notes Ramirez. It's an easy one to ask, as the car doesn't have the Hyundai badge, but the "flying wing" Equus marque (although Ramirez points out that Hyundai's "H" marque is in the rear).

Creative for the advertising -- produced by Brian Beletic, who has directed work for Nike, Adidas and Converse -- began running on the Golf Channel during the opening rounds of the British Open this month with a second flight on ESPN during the later rounds.

David Matathia, director of marketing at Hyundai, tells Marketing Daily there will be more Equus work coming to run on network and cable  and on broadcasts of other pro golf tournaments, both nationally and with heavy-up in key markets.  "A lot of the innovations on the Equus have been on the interior, so we are also doing specific shoots to romance and capture the quality of materials and technological improvements, and then we will potentially do a third spot that will talk about the other services that come with [the car]."

Those, he says, include free maintenance, and valet pick-up and delivery. The effort also includes invitation-only grassroots events like ride-and-drives. "We also did a partnership with GQ where we took tastemakers from different categories, wined and dined them in the car, and captured that as content across digital channels." 

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