SUV Wars Heat Up With Campaigns From VW, Hyundai, Ford

Is a car commercial supposed to make you feel happy you are childless? 

No offense to all the breeders out there, and seriously, bless you, but Volkswagen’s new 90-second spot for the Atlas SUV gave me a little bit of a headache. 

Set to Johnny Cash's “These Are My People,” the spot tells the story of four American families, from all different backgrounds, going through their morning routine. The families live in different parts of the country and speak different languages -- but as they go through a typical, chaotic morning, you see that despite their differences they are incredibly similar. 

If you DO have all those little maniacs to haul around, the Atlas should be on your consideration list because it has room for days. Big SUVs are the new and cool minivans, and there’s no shortage of them and the SUV wars are heating up with lots of new models and campaigns.

VW claims the Atlas is engineered to give consumers space that they can actually use. While other competitors check the box for seven seats, the Atlas is designed to "maximize space for passengers thanks to three rows of seats, with best in class 3rd row legroom and ample storage capacity for all shapes, sizes, and ages to enjoy." 

I really like the subtle political message in the spot, from VW’s AOR Johannes Leonardo. The spot ends with the line, “There’s Room For Everyone,” highlighting the notion that just like the country it was designed for, there’s enough room for everyone in the Atlas.

Hyundai Motor America also has a new campaign from Innocean USA for its all-new Hyundai Palisade, which aims to show the vehicle is not just a soccer mom kid hauler. It plays up room by showing all the different kinds of “families” that the vehicle (also with a third row) has room for. 

“The campaign is meant to communicate how family is more than blood and a last name; it’s the friends you grew up with who know everything about you, the neighbors you have weekly dinners with, or the sports lovers who share the same passion as you for a specific team,” Hyundai Motor America CMO Dean Evans told me in a recent interview.

The automaker is truly embracing the idea that big vehicles are not just family haulers and can be used by a wide variety of consumers in a variety of situations. I haul non-children around all the time, usually bunches of dogs in crates that I’m taking across the U.S./Canadian border on rescue transports, so this speaks to me.

Ford Motor Co. definitely gets the pets-as-important-cargo concept and is taking a similar tactic as Hyundai in showing that vehicles can be used for more than kid hauling. The automaker’s new campaign from Wieden + Kennedy for the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer includes a spot featuring a bunch of Huskies. “Return to Civilization” follows a dog-sled racer who changes places with her canine team, loading the dogs into her Explorer and hauling them from a remote arctic camp to pamper them at a pet spa. 

Even spots that are ultimately family-oriented aim to show how the vehicle’s safety features come in handy even when driving solo. In “Nighttime Adventure,” a marine biologist leaving a remote job site uses the vehicle’s Terrain Management System with seven selectable drive modes to travel across rough terrain and ultimately treat her family to ice cream. 

Incidentally, the kids in all of the Hyundai and Ford spots are quiet and ridiculously well behaved. So maybe VW deserves props for showing what many of you are up against. Your life might be chaotic, but at least you have some excellent vehicle choices to help get you through it. 

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