Hyundai's Ad Agency to Get Crack at Redemption on Super SundayS

Hyundai has finally conquered its case of cold feet over a significant ad buy for Feb. 3's Super Bowl broadcast. Ad Age reported last week that the carmaker—which bought two 30-second spots in the second half, probably to introduce its new Genesis sedan—has squelched its anxiety regarding the creative capabilities of its agency, San Francisco's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. This is a big second chance for the shop, which won the Hyundai account in early 2007 but then developed several campaigns that, according to Ad Age, disappointed an automaker that's striving to penetrate the U.S. market in a more aggressive fashion, with upmarket product.

If the numbers match up and a Super Bowl spot still sells for upwards of $3 million for 30 seconds, then Hyundai was heavily exposed and understandably nervous after shifting its business from the Richard Group, which had held the account since 2002, to Goodby, SIlverstein in early 2007. The Frisco shop was delighted by their win, as they had lost Saturn just a month before picking up the $600 million Hyundai biz. Still, the "Think About It" spots that they initially created willingly committed the cardinal automotive advert infraction of not showing the car (one of the reasons Saturn gave for firing the agency). A series of "Big Duh" spots followed. They displayed way more product, but didn't exactly do it in an upscale way: accompanying music consisted of well-known tunes, such as the Theme from Mission Impossible, sung entirely with the word "duh." Catchy, sure, but also weird. And certainly more a brand-awareness effort than something that could get customers stokes about product.

These spots also linked a brand that wants to compete with Lexus (some day) with the idea that you'd be stupid not to go for a Hyundai, rather than gracefully empowered to take a chance on the Korean aspirant, its rapidly improving reliability record, and it's 10-year/100,000 mile warranty. The tagline "It's so obvious—it's a no-brainer" isn't going to go down in automotive history.

Hyundai will be mixed in with Audi, Chevy, and Toyota during the big game this year. It's golden opportunity for Goodby, Silverstein to shake off last year's missteps and give their marquee car account some real momentum heading into 2008 and what may very well be a rough environment for the automotive business. We'll be watching. Expect, if nothing else, to SEE THE CAR. Actually, it's hard to understand why agencies ever manage to successfully pitch creative that fails to do this. The famous car ad of all time, inverted though its sell message may have been, still showed product. If Goodby. Silverstein needs some guidance on how to do this in an innovative way, they can always look to the work that Modernista! has produced for Cadillac, especially the Kate Walsh spots that have been running lately.

Of course, none of the bobbles with Hyundai prevented Goodby, Silverstein from locking down Ad Age's Agency of the Year. But that accolade doesn't mean they're living up to their lofty creative reputation for one of their biggest accounts—not to mention one that has an important new vehicle set to debut. (Image AP)

Hyundai ends Super Bowl dithering [Ad Age]