Hyundai, in a Shift, to Use Celebs in a Super Bowl Ad

It features 'nice' banter between a man and woman

Hyundia Motor America typically eschews celebrities in its Super Bowl ads. Not this time.

One of the two 30-second ads that lead creative agency Innocean USA is developing for the Feb. 3 game will feature three celebrities, according to Steve Shannon, the company's vp of marketing.

Shannon declined to identify the stars but nonetheless described the ad they will appear in, showing Adweek storyboards in a computer file to illustrate the action. (Hyundai's two ads have yet to be shot; one shoot is scheduled for this weekend, and the other the weekend after that. Both commericals will be shot in the Los Angeles area.)

In the celeb ad, which will air in the fourth quarter of the game, two silver Hyundai Elantras stop alongside each other. A man drives one (with a friend in the back), and a woman the other.

"Hey, nice ride," the guy says.

"Nice try," the woman replies.

The "nice" banter continues back and forth, with the guy, a bit distracted by the woman, facing progressively more difficult road conditions—from an explosion on up to a steep ramp that he takes off from at the end. The brand's tagline remains, "New thinking. New possibilities."

In January, when asked about the use of celebs in the run-up to this year's Super Bowl, Shannon told Adweek, "Hyundai, wanting to be different, would probably not go in that direction." So what changed his mind this time around?

"This was just a fun idea that we sparked to, and it happened to have celebrities in it," Shannon said. "We think it's a good use of them both with the main guy and there's a very a funny little bit—almost a cameo—with the second guy."

Hyundai's other Super Bowl ad will air during the first quarter and feature the company's luxury Genesis car, which is being relaunched next year, six years after it was introduced. That ad centers around a father and son and the dad's sixth sense-like ability to catch his son just before he falls or gets into trouble.

A series of vignettes show just-in-time saves as the child grows up. In the last vignette, the son, now a teenager, is driving—with his dad in the passenger seat. Something distracts him from the road, just as a truck stops in front of him. In the end, though, the car's braking system prevents a crash.

Historically, Hyundai has used music to great effect in its big game ads. The "Team" ad from this past Super Bowl, for example, featured Quiet Riot's "Bang Your Head." The automaker is mulling several song options for the father-son ad, including a George Harrison version of Bob Dylan's "If Not For You."

The upcoming Super Bowl will be Hyundai's seventh in a row, and planning for the game began just six weeks after this year's, when Hyundai bought the ad time. Accordingly, the automaker got a discount on the $4 million average cost of 30 seconds this year, though Shannon declined to say how much less Hyundai paid.

The company picked the cars for the ads during the summer, and in September, Innocean started pitching creative concepts. To arrive at the final two ads, Shannon estimated that he saw maybe 15-18 different executions during a two-month period.

Jim Jenkins, the director on last year's "Team" ad, will direct the celeb ad, and Frank Todaro will direct the father-son spot.