Hyundai Turns Up Super Bowl Pitch for Sonata

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on February 5, 2010

Hyundai Motor made a splash in the auto industry with an aggressive marketing blitz last year. Taking advantage of Korea’s weak currency, Hyundai brought out a string of promotional packages, including its “Assurance Program” allowing buyers to return their cars and cancel their loans without hurting their credit ratings, if they lost their jobs. Now it is stepping up its sales pitch just as its admired and toughest rival Toyota, is suffering from one of the worst public relations crises in industry history.

The Korean automaker will burst into action with the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in America. It is due to run eight multi-million-dollar commercials on CBS, broadcaster of the 2010 Super Bowl, before, during and after the widely viewed game. The aim: to kick off its 2010 $160 million campaign promoting its completely re-engineered Sonata family sedan. The Sonata, which is being built in Alabama, will compete with Toyota’s top-selling Camry, Honda’s Accord and Ford’s Fusion.

Hyundai’s strategy of spending big during an industry slump has delivered results. Hyundai’s 2009 sales in the U.S. rose 8.3% to 435,000 vehicles; that was the biggest gain among major carmakers, even as industry demand plunged 21%. The Korean company’s net profit doubled to a record $2.5 billion last year when its global market share rose to 5.2% from 4.3% in 2008.

Hyundai is determined to keep up the momentum with the cash it earned. Marketing outlays by Hyundai headquarters in Seoul rose 23% to $1.25 billion in 2009. (Overall spending is higher, but its overseas subsidiaries don’t reveal details). Chaz Lee, managing director in charge of Hyundai’s overseas marketing, says his company is increasing marketing expenditure this year to help meet its target to increase its global share to 5.4%, but doesn’t give details.

The focus of this year’s Super Bowl ads is on its improving quality. One commercial that will run during the game proclaims that Hyundai’s paint quality is better than that of the Mercedes-Benz CLS 550. The other features famed Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre whose well-known tendency for changing his mind about retiring from football is used to promote Hyundai’s 10-year warranty. In a scene showing Favre undecided about whether to retire after winning an MVP award in the 2020 football season, the ad says: “But we can assure you that your Hyundai will still be covered by America’s best warranty” even then.

Reader Comments

jacob

February 5, 2010 10:10 AM

Hyundai, crazy like the fox, to be the next Toyota (in it's heyday).

Alex

February 5, 2010 2:17 PM

Hyundai did a remarkable job of quickly becoming a true global car manufacturer to excel in technology, quality and price. However it needs to learn from lessons of other "car giants" such as GM, Ford or now Toyota...

Ryan

February 6, 2010 11:58 AM

Poor man's car, with lots of spending on Ads. Will they ever produce a REAL Hybrid?

JJ

February 6, 2010 4:51 PM

Yes, it needs to learn from GM, & Toyota for their own problems that may surface from too confident.

Jacob

February 6, 2010 7:25 PM

Hyundai-Kia has just passed Ford to be the 4th largest global automaker.

Calvin

February 6, 2010 8:49 PM

I bet Ryan doesn't have any car; he's waiting for a magical hybrid that runs on his hot air.

Don't hold your breath, R.

Ryan

February 7, 2010 12:29 AM

Your bet is on the wrong, Calvin. I'm only waiting for a REAL HYBRID from H, not FAKE Hyundai's LGP Hybrid which does not save any gas.

Robert

February 7, 2010 7:43 PM

I have always bought honda's and toyota's, and all because of their quality and reliability. I was even a salesman for honda not long ago. But now, with their quality and specially their design going towards the indian Nano, I will buy the new 2011 Kia Sorento and 2010 Sonata to replace my 05 accords and 06 Tundra...


I just bought a 2011 Sorento, boy it's SWEETTTTTTTT......

I will buy the new sonata when it arrives in the showrooms..

AhSin Ang

February 7, 2010 10:26 PM

Well done, Hyundai. That is a smart and swift action to capitalize on your competitor's plight. That's business, that's life!

in Singapore, with the highest cost of car ownership in the world, the value and quality of Sonata was so impressive and I believe that the new model will give all brands (at least in the same category) a run for their money !

As a proud owner of the Sonata 2.4L for the past 5 years, I am looking forward to seeing the new Sonata introducing in Singapore soon.

Paikia1

February 8, 2010 2:27 AM

I rented a Hyundai Sonata while vacationing in Las Vegas and I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and the good gas mileage I got. Many features found mostly in expensive cars are standard features in this car, like the wiper and lights coming on automatically when there is a need, just like my Caddy.

If its reliability is good and price stays competitive, I won't be surprised if Hyundai would capture more of the American car market just like its compatriot, Samsung does in the flat panel tv market.

C. H. Ng

February 8, 2010 8:30 PM

2 decades ago we won't touch or buy any Korean cars unless it's based on the price factor. We would rather go for the Japanese or continental cars. But recent Korean made cars are making waves & turning heads with their very much improved quality, superb design & innovation. They are catching up very fast with the Japanese. Give them another 5 years or so, I am sure they are as good as them. So when it comes to Korean made cars, Hyundai & Kia still reign supreme. Congratulation!

Robin

February 19, 2010 5:01 AM

I will never buy a Korean Made...even how good they are. I don't support a culture that is full of rude people. No Korean Made for me...and I do still think of those for the low class.

KIA = Killed In Auto

Kevin

February 20, 2010 4:12 PM

Hyundai-KIA's latest models are all awesome! Hyundai Sonata, Kia Forte, Sorento, Venga etc. Great design, quality, price and features. Their cars are smoking hot and forget Toyota and Honda! lol

Warren

February 27, 2010 6:09 PM

What a great success Hyundai-KIA is. Just a decade ago everyone was laughing at them. But look at them now - they are overtaking TOYOTA, HONDA and Big 3. Hyundai-KIA is a great company!

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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