Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Think about it

Hundai is in brand hell: They are the ultimate value brand but they want to move upmarket. A very typical problem that most brands never solve. Or, typical for automotive brands, they create sub-luxury brands such as Lexus or Acura.

In order to solve this problem, Goodby was hired and created the new brand campaign with the title: 'Think about it' You can find detailed information on their mini site. (Even though I couldn't access it last night.)

"Our new 'Think About It' advertising campaign is designed to be thought provoking," said Joel Ewanick, Vice President of Marketing, HMA. "Goodby, Silverstein & Partners has developed an unconventional, integrated campaign that challenges perceptions about our brand and the auto industry, resulting in a creative execution that feels authentically Hyundai."

By adopting a tone of disarming honesty, Hyundai is breaking down the barriers that consumers have built to shield themselves from marketing claims. The intent was to pull consumers into a new understanding of the automotive world -- to challenge consumers' thoughts about what is, and should be, "standard" in the automotive industry.

"The Hyundai brand has an opportunity to define itself in the eyes of the consumer," said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. "We feel that the campaign will close the huge gap between the reality of Hyundai vehicles and the perceptions that consumers have about the brand."

Phase one features three weeks of unbranded advertising from September 10 - 28, 2007. The intention is to increase the receptivity of a consumer audience that is increasingly skeptical of marketing messages, by offering startling proof points deployed across the media landscape (print, broadcast, outdoor and online). During phase one of the campaign, the advertising challenges conventional thinking about the auto industry.

Examples include:
* Shouldn't a car have more airbags than cupholders?
* The logo is there to tell you what the car is, not who you
* When a car company charges for roadside assistance aren't
they really just helping themselves?

Goodby and Hyundai missed the point. Completely.

As a value brand, the last thing you need to do is focus on the rational part of the purchasing process. We already know that Hyundai has good products and service. Why bother retelling the story? Hyundai's problem is that it doesn't find the right emotional connection with prospects. A value brand doesn't speak to the heart of the upscale consumer.

However, Hyundai has a vivid community: There are many owners who blog about their Hyundai's, express their positive opinions about the brand and their products, spread the message about their ownership experience. Instead of wasting their money on rational advertising messages, Hyundai should have tapped into this unexplored territory. Create a network for Hyundai owners, just like Saturn did pre-Web 2.0: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Niche Networks: use the new tools to spread the message.

Instead, Hyundai chose to go the safe route. A sure path to failure.

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