No brain scans or biometrics were used in selecting my winner in the Super Bowl ad sweepstakes: Hyundai. This is a highly subjective choice, based on my guess as to which company might see the most bottom-line benefit from their Super Bowl ads. My pick isn’t supported by the USA Today Ad Meter ratings, or their online viewing/rating measures. No Hyundai ad even made the brackets at MSNBC.com’s Super Bowl ad challenge. Yes, the Doritos Crystal Ball ad was funny and memorable. And who can resist a Clydesdale in love? (Actually, I was starting to suffer from Clydesdale overload after the third ad featuring the lovable beasts.) Here’s why I think Hyundai had a winning Super Bowl strategy:
1) The “Angry Bosses” ad (above) combines several strong elements. First, it tells viewers that the Hyundai Genesis was named the North American Car of the Year. It doesn’t say who made this pick, but most viewers won’t care. Second, the commercial suggests that luxury brands like Lexus and BMW are incensed by Hyundai’s win, as Japanese and German bosses go bonkers. This implies to viewers that the Hyundai product is, at least in some ways, in the same league as these revered icons of quality and luxury. Third, and most important, the Hyundai brand name is repeated time and time again throughout the ad. Unlike many Super Bowl commercials, one doesn’t have to wait for the final few seconds to figure out whose ad it is.
2) Their Buyer Assurance ads were certainly some of the more boring Super Bowl commercials, but they communicated a unique value proposition: suffer a financial reversal in the next year, and we’ll buy the car back from you. For buyers nervous about the economy, this Hyundai offer could be appealing. No other car maker currently offers such a plan.
3) If Hyundai’s other ads were bland and practical, their ad for the Genesis coupe added some sex appeal to the line as it drifted around curves to pulsing music from Smashing Pumpkins:
The ads are from San Francisco-based Goodby Silverstein & Partners.
Hyundai obviously put some serious money into their Super Bowl ad strategy. The ads weren’t flashy or funny, and won’t win any “favorite ad” polls, but in my opinion these ads made good use of a couple of minutes of airtime and advanced Hyundai’s branding effort in the U.S.