BLOG: Hyundai’s Super Bowl blitz scored big

Hyundai’s “Ryanville” ad, starring actor Ryan Reynolds, one of four Hyundai ads that aired during the Super Bowl.

Hyundai wanted to make a splash in its first Super Bowl as the NFL’s automotive sponsor, but it didn’t just throw money around with reckless abandon.

Every move was calculated to maximize impact on advertising’s biggest stage, and Hyundai made a little history as a result by becoming the first automaker to take the top spot on USA Today’s Ad Meter with its “First Date” spot starring actor/comedian Kevin Hart.

Hyundai also grabbed fifth- and sixth-place finishes on the Ad Meter with “Ryanville,” which starred actor Ryan Reynolds, and “The Chase” — a millennial-aimed spot highlighted by talking bears.

The selections of Reynolds and Hart in two of Hyundai’s four game-day spots went beyond their famous faces, says Dean Evans, chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor America. The two stars, with massive social followings that continue grow, are burning up the pop culture scene right now.

Hart’s buddy-cop bonanza, Ride Along 2, hit theaters in January, while Reynolds takes on the role of witty antihero Deadpool in an action flick sharing the same name that’s releasing on Feb. 12 in the U.S.

Evans, who took the Hyundai marketing job in August, said there is an “art and science” to picking the right talent for a script.

“Talent needs to not just fit, they need to be having an impact on society and pop culture right now. Whether that’s a growing social media following [or] high acceptance with having a movie come out,” Evans said in an interview. “All those things have to align when you’re going to bring talent to the platform.”

Hart and Reynolds each have universal appeal, but they were cast to hit different target demographics.

Evans said Hart, who played an overprotective dad who used the Hyundai Blue Link Car Finder feature on his Genesis to spy on his daughter during a date, was for fathers and the male audience. Reynolds, on the other hand, was bait for the female contingent.

Hyundai stuck with a clear formula in its three ads, using humor as it pitched various tech features in the Elantra and Genesis. This was intentional.

Evans said technology features are hot selling points that help move cars these days, plus they’re one of the product pillars that the automaker is strongest in. Hyundai’s smart watch integration, in particular, is something it wanted to showcase.

Most importantly, Hyundai went into the Super Bowl campaign looking to entertain viewers — as evidenced by high-profile director choices like Peter Berg — because that’s the main reason people tune in.

Yet when attempting to make people laugh, Hyundai didn’t go with mindless goofiness. In Hart’s spot, for example, Hyundai connected with viewers by using the relatable concept of a father’s love.

“There’s a reason Beyonce and Coldplay are at halftime. We’re there to be entertained before, during and after. You have to make people laugh and you have to make people smile at a universal truth,” Evans said. “You can make people laugh with a monkey, but if you’re laughing around something a little more mature with a universal truth, I think it goes deeper and reflects better on your brand long term.”

Other Super Bowl winners

Hyundai wasn’t the only winner on Super Bowl Sunday, according to shopping site data.

On Edmunds.com, Mini had the biggest brand lift of any brand thanks to its star-filled “Defy Labels” spot. When comparing Mini’s Super Sunday traffic to an average Sunday, the brand saw a 100 percent increase in traffic to its make and model pages.

Acura, meanwhile, saw a 38 percent lift on Edmunds to come in second. The NSX, which it advertised during the game in a spot featuring the sounds of Van Halen, had the biggest lift of any vehicle on Edmunds with a 661 percent traffic increase.

Audi saw the largest increase in searches on Kelly Blue Book’s site, KBB.com.

On the strength of its astronaut-themed spot, “The Commander,” Audi’s R8 led all vehicles with a 7,780 percent spike in searches. Audi bested all brands with a 448 percent increase in searches on Sunday night.

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