Hyundai goes all-in on electric for masterbrand campaign

Who: Hyundai Auto Canada, with Innocean Worldwide Canada for strategy, creative and media, Steam Films for production (directed by Brig White), with School Editing and Fort York VFX for post-production, and Vapor for music.

What: A new masterbrand campaign intended to make a bold declaration about Hyundai’s emergence as an electric vehicle frontrunner in Canada.

When & Where: The campaign launched mid-October and is running across TV, online and in cinema through the end of November. This is a masterbrand campaign, but there are a variety of digital assets to target shoppers further down the funnel based on the specific type of vehicle they’re in the market for.

Why: There are a couple of key drivers (see what we did there?) underlying this campaign: Hyundai wants to talk about its electric vehicle lineup, and also start marketing the Hyundai name more, as opposed to its various models: If consumers are considering an EV, they should think about Hyundai first as a category leader.

Masterbrand focus: Hyundai has done a lot to improve consumer awareness and opinion about nameplates like Elantra, Santa Fe and Tucson, said Christine Smith, marketing director for Hyundai Canada. But part of her mandate since moving from Innocean to Hyundai in August is to focus on the Hyundai brand.

“In my first video conference with José Muñoz [CEO] of Hyundai Motor America, he said to me ‘Christine, brand opinion. That’s your number one [focus]. I want to talk about Hyundai masterbrand opinion.’ And so it’s been very clear that’s my mandate from the starting point.”

The EV focus: “We have an extensive electrified lineup of vehicles that no one really knows about,” said Smith. “We haven’t really talked about it because generally the demand has far outweighed the supply.” But now, with so many options to offer consumers (11 EVs in total), Hyundai feels it deserves to be considered a leader in the EV space. “As a brand we were leading this charge, but not really talking about it,” said Smith. This campaign is specifically designed to change that.

How: The campaign’s cornerstone is a 60-second ad running on TV. They’re also running it as a :30, but Hyundai was eager to command attention. “We wanted to go out in a big way, make a big statement and grab a lot of attention,” said Smith.

Hyundai wanted a big, ambitious ad with an attention-grabbing backing track (“Electric Youth” from Denmark + Winter), as well breakthrough visuals and cinematography that avoided the tropes and conventions of other car ads. “Part of the idea is the scale,” said associate creative director David Strasser. “Nothing screams we are serious about this as much as a big, classic, long-form :60, which is full of metal but also the human stories.”

That ambitious message had to be delivered by an equally confident ad.  A lot of other EV creative from other automakers relies on category truths, or “wishy washy” messages about the environment, said Strasser. Hyundai felt that its strength in the category allowed it to make this ad more directly and expressly about the Hyundai lineup. So there are sexy atmospheric glamour shots, along with scenes showing the versatility, utility and performance of its lineup. Shots of well-lit Hyundais in cool, urban settings are followed by scenes of a Hyundai speeding around an empty race track, and pulling motorbikes on a trailer.

The director: Strasser credits director Brig White for his ability to interpret the Innocean vision in an effective and evocative fashion. “He said ‘Here’s how we can shoot this. We need to have a POV that the camera is always moving. Nothing is static, nothing is still. Nothing can look like your typical car ad,'” said Strasser.

And we quote: “Electrification is going to be a major pillar of our messaging moving forward. This is not just a launch and abandon, and we’ll come back to it the next time we have another new EV. We’re going to continue to have new EVs and electrification, and the all of the great options we have across our lineup are going to be a core piece of our messaging strategy moving forward as a brand.” — Christine Smith, marketing director, Hyundai Canada

David Brown