Why Hyundai thinks football on YouTube can help it move past ‘playing catch-up’

Hyundai has strengthened its ties to football as it hopes to broaden its relevance, build brand awareness and work past “playing catch-up” with its competitors.

Having only launched in the UK 10 years ago, Hyundai is a relatively new addition to the auto space, a challenge that the brand is hoping an affiliation with football can help it overcome after seeing positive results from a 12-month partnership with football focussed YouTube channel and digital network Copa90.

The pair worked together to create a six-part series titled #FanFilmFund, which gave fans of the sport the opportunity to turn their football stories into a documentary. Over the past year the first five videos in the series have resulted in over 1m series views on YouTube, while content overall from the series has received over 3.5m minutes of views.

While Hyundai is already an official sponsor of football tournaments such as the UEFA European Championships and the FIFA World Cup it was aware that it didn’t hold “a credible voice” in the sport in non-tournament years, explained head of brand strategy and communcations Adam Nickson.

“Hyundai has been in football for many years in terms of sponsorship for key tournaments… but we’ve treated it almost where we have appeared at a tournament said ‘yes we will sponsor it’, then disappeared again,” he said. “So we haven’t had a constant voice in football in those times where there isn’t a tournament happening and we were very conscious that to have any credibility in the sport we needed to be an always-on-voice rather than someone who just appears when the tournament is on then disappears for two years.”

The Korea-based brand was keen to place fans at the fore of the series and tap into such a strong passion point – rather than using its corporate voice to shout about football – and wanted to use Copa90’s 1.5m subscribers to put Hyundai on the radar of football fans to explain what the brand is about, as part of a wider social media strategy.

“As a brand we are playing catch-up…we’ve got a lot of work to do next year not just communicating product but communicating brand, so partnerships and sponsorships are going to be really important for us not just in football but in Rally [World Rally Championships]," said Nickson. “We also have a commission at Tate Modern so trying to promote our selves though non-traditional channels will be a big effort for us next year.

“Awareness is good but it could be better, and also the heartbeat of what the makes the brand tick is something we really need to start on next year… any affiliations will be important as well in terms of ambassadors and brand partners to explain a bit more about what we are about to bring more relevance to who we are.”

The context of football within Hyundai’s wider marketing strategy is “relatively stand-alone” with the brand using TV, OOO and press to communicate its product features and benefits, whereas social media channels are a chance for the car marque to show the story behind the brand and explain more about its motivation.

“Social is less about the metal and the gear box and the steering and the features and benefits but more about the kind of broader Hyundai, what makes us tick, what happens behind the scenes here. It can help us talk about our brand over and above our products to give people a sense of what we are about because that is one of our key challenges: to try and explain to people what makes Hyundai tick. We are going to place a bigger focus on that.”

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