Target: Japanese Car Buyers
Reviewer: David Vinjamuri
A 90-second spot kicking off a new campaign for Hyundai around the idea of ‘smart.’ The spot is narrated by Kelsey Grammer (of ‘Frasier’ and ‘Cheers’ fame) and features a series of shots of smart people including Einstein, FDR, JFK, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island, Rodin’s Thinker and not less smart people including Wile E Coyote and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. The second half of the spot features Hyundai cars and talks about their various smart features and awards.
Hyundai pulled out all the stops for this new campaign which will reportedly spend $650 million to reshape consumer opinions of the Korean car manufacturer. There was a ferocious agency competition (chronicled in BusinessWeek and blog commentary) resulting in a win by Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. The resulting campaign is anchored by the familiar voice of Kelsey Grammer and features a veritable trademark licenser’s dream team of familiar images, from FDR and Einstein to cartoons.
On the positive side, we can say that the spot is well-edited, has engaging visuals and moves along at a good pace – even the 90-second version we link to here.
There is no shortage of claimants to the title of “Most Colossal Waste of Marketing Money” this year, from Microsoft with $500 million for Vista to the disturbing new Axe spots. But Hyundai might just sweep this award category with this unfortunately misguided campaign.
This campaign has significant problems in both strategy and execution, but the strategic errors alone make the entire effort a terrible waste of money. This advertising blog has previously discussed Hyundai’s strategic error – the short story being that Hyundai argues with strongly held consumer perceptions in this campaign. Even though new Hyundai models are by all reports, as reliable as Japanese cars and very safe, consumer perceptions are rooted in the original brand image of Hyundai that is not likely to change through direct confrontation.
The execution of this spot is not better. The first and possibly worst mistake is starting the introductory spot with the picture of a lightbulb glowing. This is a classic General Electric image and immediately cues that brand. Then we do not see the Hyundai brand or hear the Hyundai name until the second half of the :90 second spot.
Finally, the ‘unique selling proposition’ is a confused muddle of competing claims and benefits including quality, safety and awards. Too much is less here and the viewer is left without a hook for Hyunda’s new brand positioning at the end of the spot.
Branding Bottom Line:
Hyundai fritters away a superior product with bad strategy and mediocre advertising. We keep driving our Toyota.