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Brand Strategy TikTok Consumer Behavior

Hyundai Tucson taps Jason Bateman, Mindy Kaling to target millennials for ‘historic launch’


By Kenneth Hein, US Editor

April 29, 2021 | 5 min read

Hyundai wants millennials, and secondary targets, to ‘question everything’ for the remainder of the year. In what it is calling its biggest and most important launch in history, Hyundai is putting ‘Super Bowl-level’ dollars behind the debut of its newly redesigned Tucson brand. The hope is that the Tucson will be able to speed ahead within the competitive compact SUV segment. Marketing chief Angela Zepada says this is “not a new chapter, but a whole new book for Hyundai.”


Jason Bateman has questions

Hyundai is racing into the spring car buying market with a star-studded, Super Bowl-esque campaign designed to accelerate Tucson on to the leaderboard, with Nissan Rouge and Toyota RAV4, in the compact SUV segment.

In what it is calling a ‘full-funnel attack’, 2022 Hyundai Tucson will receive unprecedented ad support for a year-long effort. While Hyundai wouldn’t quantify its spend, Angela Zepeda, chief marketer at Hyundai Motor America, characterized the campaign as “the biggest and most important launch in Hyundai’s history. The newly designed Tucson is setting the Hyundai brand for the future.”

The popular automaker is banking on millennials to lead the charge. They have identified an audience of ’creative connectors’ as the brand’s sweet spot. “It's for millennials, maybe those who are getting married and starting a family, but it’s also a great vehicle for a single person or even urban couples,” says Zepeda. “It’s more of a mindset that we focus on. They’re just a curious target that is very involved with everything around them. They’re very aware of their surroundings, the world they live in, and they’re optimistic.”

With this target in mind, Hyundai has launched its ‘question everything’ marketing campaign. The soon-to-be-pervasive campaign features six stars – Jason Bateman, Mindy Kaling, Becky G, Kawhi Leonard, Giada De Laurentiis and Nate Berkus – ‘asking life’s most perplexing questions.'

“We all have those sort of Steven Wright questions like ‘why can you drive in a parkway?’” says Barney Goldberg, executive creative director of Innocean USA, which handled the effort. “We wanted the campaign to be relatable and fun. It’s kind of disarming to see celebrities living their normal lives asking these questions. Then we then bring it into Hyundai’s world where we had those questions too about our vehicles. It’s all about ‘how do we make headlights so that you don’t see until you need to see them?’ and ‘how big can we make a bigger infotainment screen, and can we call it an infotainment screen? Yes, we can.’”

‘Getting back to business’ as car sales revenge spending takes hold

Car sales are booming, and Hyundai has been one of the early recipients of apparent revenge spending. It reported record-breaking March and Q1 sales. “It’s very bullish right now,” says Zepeda. “It’s stimulus checks. People getting back to work. People getting vaccinated. People are anxious to get back to normal and they’re excited about purchasing products that they’ve been waiting to buy. Now is the right time.”

While lots of marketing timelines had been altered by Covid, including Hyundai skipping the Super Bowl, Zepeda says a 2021 spring launch was always the plan for the redesigned Tucson. Now it’s “getting back to business” in terms of spending and then some, Zepada says. In the past “we didn’t spend enough at a national level.”

That will change this year. The campaign will air the at the NBA Playoffs and the PGA Championship on streaming, major broadcast network and cable programming. Tucson will also be a part of integrations with The Masked Singer on Fox, National Geographic’s Outside Academy, ESPN 30 for 30, and Live X Live’s Save More Stages, as well as be featured on Hey Google.

Social media will see a flurry of content and gifs featuring the celebrities from the ad. A ’question everything’ TikTok challenge, where the stars ask their followers what they question most, will also be in the mix. As will out-of-home, radio, direct mail and point of sale – pretty much the full arsenal of tactics.

“This will be one of many launches we’ll do this year and then moving into next year,” says Zepeda. “This is just the beginning. It really is writing a whole new book for Hyundai, not even a new chapter. You’ll see that this is an elevated vehicle, and is going to set the tone and precedents for everything else that’s coming after it.”

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