Hyundai Ties New Car to Marvel Characters, ‘SportsCenter’ and ‘Bachelorette’ Hosts in Disney Ad Pact (EXCLUSIVE)

Hyundai didn’t go to the Super Bowl this year, but it’s still taking a trip to Disneyland.

The large automaker has struck a broad advertising pact with The Walt Disney Company that will have characters from ABC’s “Black-ish,” announcers from ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and even characters from Marvel tout the benefits of the new Tucson compact SUV in on-screen appearances set to roll out over the next few months. On Monday evening, viewers of the premiere of “The Bachelorette” will see Tayshia Adams get into the new vehicle, along with Tucson appearances on “Black-ish” and “SportsCenter.”

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Hyundai spent 12 of the past 14 years putting big-splash commercials in the Super Bowl, but in 2021, it wanted to make a similar impression on consumers over a more sustained time period, Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor America, says in an interview. Despite competition from Toyota and Nissan, “we think we have a best-in-class vehicle that we think is going to turn some heads,” she says, “We wanted to make sure all of America saw it.”

To do so, Hyundai is making a bet that pairing its car with specific shows across the Disney portfolio will capture interest. “Making that emotional connection with the consumers is important when they are watching shows they love,” she says. “We hope this gives us a boost when people are leaning in and really paying attention and are not only entertained, but also take something away about this all-new vehicle.”

Advertisers have long spent big on TV ads, but they are growing increasingly focused on tying them more closely to individual programs and properties. Yes, TV and streaming viewers still encounter a single commercial that seems to pop up again and again, but there is also new emphasis on crafting bespoke concepts that play off of specific content being watched.

Capturing more of the Hyundai ad budget is not a prospect to be ignored. The automaker spent nearly $353.2 million on traditional media advertising in 2020, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. The bulk of it — nearly $328.9 million — was spent on TV commercials.

Since January, Hyundai and Disney have considered a range of creative concepts, says Andrew Messina, a senior vice president at Disney Advertising Sales who oversees relationship with auto makers and travel marketers. Many of the ideas came from talks between Disney’s CreativeWorks, an internal agency that helps advertisers craft concepts, and Innocean, Hyundai’s agency. Marvel Studios managed the executions involving its famous characters — the first time Marvel and Disney’s media networks have teamed up for this sort of cross-divisional ad package.

Overall, Hyundai will be featured in 12 commercials using Disney properties as well as dozens of pieces for use in digital and social venues, says Zepeda.

Disney and Hyundai had already been working on augmented-reality experiences with National Geographic. Those content pieces highlighted national parks as well as Hyundai’s electric, and hybrid vehicles, including the electric Ioniq 5.

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