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Hyundai Turns to Hollywood

Originally published in AdWeek, July 14, 2008

Gregory Solman

Hyundai Genesis

Aiming to take the brand upmarket

LOS ANGELES Faced with the first luxury-car launch in its history -- and given an $80 million budget to boot, almost twice that of any previous new model push -- Hyundai Motor America is turning to Hollywood to explode its bargain-brand image and give it some glamour, said Joel Ewanick, vp of marketing.

Its first-time alliance with Omnicom talent shop Davie Brown Entertainment, through Interpublic Group's Initiative, will see Hyundai's Genesis get significant play in a two-hour movie that is expected to kick off the new season of the hit TV series 24 in the fall, as well as in the Dean Devlin-produced Turner Network Television show Leverage, which premiers this fall. "There's a social stigma we're dealing with, preconceived notions of what a Hyundai is," said Ewanick." The programs are meant to make Hyundai a normal part of popular culture and celebrity culture."

Arguing that his predecessors had written "too strict guidelines" for Hyundai use in entertainment properties, Ewanick "liberalized" the rules for the notoriously conservative Korean automaker. Still, he would not reveal who -- hero or villain -- would be driving Genesis or the terms of the agreement.

Challenged by what Ewanick called "the biggest perception/reality gap in the industry," the brand will hit hard against quality, performance and prestige barriers in an integrated effort, which includes 73 marketing events through IPG's Jack Morton Worldwide. Taking a pass on the Olympics -- Ewanick said they'd "chew up too much budget too early in the launch" -- a handful of Genesis launch spots, through Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, will bow at both political conventions in August and heavy up as football kicks off.

Fountain Valley, Calif.-based HMA spent $460 million on ads in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

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Copyright © 2008 Davie Brown Entertainment

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