Hyundai’s Super Bowl Ad Brings Jason Bateman’s Dry Wit to the Even Drier Topic of Car Shopping

Brand touts its unique buying process

Jason Bateman shines in Hyundai's Super Bowl ad. Hyundai

Hyundai has had a strong tradition of humorous Super Bowl ads. After taking a break from comedy the past two years, the automaker is back with a new ad starring Jason Bateman as a wry elevator attendant dropping people off on floors that represent things in life considered painful.

“The Elevator,” a 60-second ad that will run in the first quarter of the game on Sunday is a progressive race to the bottom. Topics addressed as the elevator makes it to the bottom floor include root canals, jury duty, a middle seat on a six-hour flight, “the talk” and a vegan dinner party.

But it’s the car-buying experience—at the bottom floor—that’s considered the worst thing in the world to deal with. Yet, Bateman gets a lesson in Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance program from happy car buyers.

The ad is dense, fast-paced and classic Bateman, with his bone-dry wit and snappy comebacks. On each floor, he adds his own unique spin to each scenario.

“We started thinking about all those things you have to do but hate to do or have to do but would love to avoid,” said Barney Goldberg, executive creative director at Innocean, the agency that created the ad. “The idea was, ‘What if those were like floors in a building and you were being dropped off at all these painful things that you really would want to get out of if you could, but you can’t?’”

According to Goldberg, the idea was to eschew the big belly-laugh moments or a huge payoff for something a little cleverer.

“I think in each [scenario] that people will find different things to respond and react to positively,” he said.

To drive the concept and comedy, there was no other choice than the Arrested Development and Ozark star.

“The casting was very intentional,” Goldberg said. “There was really no one else that we felt was going to be able to pull this off. He’s got that dry wit [and] the charm. He can deliver the little sideways comment but still stay so likable.”

While there was a script, the agency and brand took a similar approach to their past, successful comedic ads starring Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds by allowing Bateman to be himself and deliver some golden dialogue.

“We go in with what we think is funny and what we need to get to make the spot work,” Goldberg said. “But [celebrities] will surprise you.”

One particularly humorous line comes at the end of the spot with a man getting ready to leave the elevator for a colon exam. Bateman, holding the man back, says, “Not so fast, Captain Colon.”

“We had different lines for that,” Goldberg said. “We started laughing and said, ‘OK, Captain Colon it is.’”

According to Dean Evans, CMO of Hyundai Motor America, the brand always seeks to find some universal truth in its Super Bowl ads while making an emotional connection. In the case of this year’s effort, the focus on Hyundai’s frictionless Shopper Assurance program, instead of specific vehicles, made sense.

“Our research shows 80 to 90 percent [of people] say [car buying] is not a very good experience,” Evans said. “Last year, we did roughly [350,000 to 400,000] transactions through a Hyundai Shopper Assurance dealer. We asked [customers] what they thought, and 90 percent said that they loved it or liked it.”

The singular focus on the program for the brand’s most high-profile Super Bowl ad, as Evans put it, “reminds consumers that we’re here to help them and we have [a car buying experience] that we think can.”

In addition to the ad starring Bateman, Hyundai will air a 30-second spot featuring its SUV line, including its new premium Palisade vehicle, during the Super Bowl pregame show.

CREDITS:

Hyundai Motor America
Chief Marketing Officer: Dean Evans
Executive Coordinator, Marketing and Communications: CY Park
Director, Marketing Communications: Paul Imhoff
Senior Group Manager, Brand Marketing & Advertising: Monique Kumpis
Agency: INNOCEAN USA
VP, Executive Creative Director: Barney Goldberg
VP, Group Creative Director: Jeff Bossin
Creative Director: Ryan Scott
Associate Creative Director, Art: Brook Boley
Associate Creative Director, Copy: Carrie Talick
VP, Head of Content Production: Nicolette Spencer
Senior Producer: Melissa Moore
Content Producer: Devondra Dominguez
SVP, Head of Brand Management: Angela Zepeda
VP, Group Brand Director: Mike Braue
Brand Director: Bryan DiBiagio
Brand Manager: Christy Butler
SVP, Head of Strategy Planning: Kimberly Bates
Planning Director: Tim Anderson
SVP, HMA Media: Ben Gogley
Director, Media: Sean Gilpin
PR Manager: David Thalberg
Associate Director, Business Affairs: Lisa Nichols
Business Affairs Manager: Delores Martin
Broadcast Traffic Supervisor: Theresa Artaserse
Broadcast Traffic Manager: Valerie Neibel
Project Management Supervisor: Suzanne Cheng
Project Manager: Joy Simmons
Director, Product Information: Brian Bittker
Senior Product Manager: Charlie Ashby

Production Company: O Positive
Director: Jim Jenkins
Executive Producer: Marc Grill
Head of Production: Devon Clark
Production Supervisor: Sameet Patadia
DP: Trent Opaloch
Casting: Envision Studios

Editorial: Arcade Edit
Editor: Geoff Hounsell
Managing Partner: Damian Stevens
Executive Producer: Crissy DeSimone
Head of Production: Kirsten Thon-Webb
Sr Producer: Adrienne Tararin
Assistant Editor: Josh Miller

Color: Company 3
Sr Colorist: Dave Hussey
Producer: Gabriel Wakeman

Online/VFX: JAMM Visual
VFX Supervisor/Lead Compositor: Brian Hajek
Flame Artist: Jake Montgomery
Flame Artist: Miles Essmiller
Flame Artist: Mark Holden
CG Artist: Fred Hopp
Executive Producer: Asher Edwards
Producer: Ashley Greyson

Mix/Record Studio: Lime Studios
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Sr Mix Engineer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant Sound Engineer: Peter Lapinski

Sound Design Company: LSD
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi / Kai Paquin

Music: Massive Music
Managing Director: Scott Cymbala
Creative Director: Ben Einziger
Creative Director: Tim Adams
Producer: Kiki McDaniel

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl LIII Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 3 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.</em


@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
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