Hyundai's Super Bowl ad plans include comedian Kevin Hart, actor Ryan Reynolds, two talking bears -- and a bunch of car technology.
The automaker -- which is finishing up the first year of its NFL sponsorship -- is trying to make the most of an aggressive ad buy that includes two 30-second in-game ads, plus one pre-game ad and another spot right before kickoff. And like a lot of Super Bowl advertisers this year, Hyundai is leaning heavily on celebrities to extend its reach.
"Celebrities bring a lot of brand love to the game and they also bring a social following," said Hyundai Motor America Chief Marketing Officer Dean Evans.
The agency on the ads is Innocean.
Mr. Hart stars in a 60-second spot called "First Date" that is slated to run right before kickoff. He plays a controlling dad who stalks a guy taking his daughter on a date in a Genesis sedan, according to a rough cut of the spot shared with Ad Age. Playing the dad, Mr. Hart uses Hyundai's "Blue Link Car Finder" mobile app to locate the couple and chases them down in a Cobra helicopter. The spot was directed by Peter Berg.
A 30-second ad running in the first quarter called "The Chase" shows a couple being chased through a forest by a couple of bears. They escape by using a voice-activated remote-start feature on their Elantra, and the spot ends showing the bears having a humorous conversation. The director is Aaron Stoller. The brand released a teaser this week:
Mr. Reynolds stars in a 30-second ad in the second quarter directed by Mr. Berg and called "Ryanville." In the spot, two women driving an Elantra get distracted by the site of Mr. Reynolds walking through a neighborhood in which everyone looks like Mr. Reynolds. The women are saved by the car's automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection technology.
The spots are an example of how automakers are increasingly using ads to pitch technology in cars, rather than just the cars themselves. "We are going through a technical revolution like we've never seen before," Mr. Evans said. "It used to be where the car had four wheels and a trip computer. Now these are computers with four wheels. That is the fast-evolving world we are going in."
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Other automakers using celebrities in their Super Bowl ads include Buick, whose spot stars New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and actress/model Emily Ratajkowski; Kia, which is using Christopher Walken; and BMW-owned Mini, whose ad includes appearances by tennis star Serena Williams, actor-producer Harvey Keitel, rapper T-Pain, skateboarder Tony Hawk, former baseball star Randy Johnson and retired soccer star Abby Wambach.
Hyundai chose Mr. Hart and Mr. Reynolds because they "have a lot of forward momentum in their own personal brands happening these days," Mr. Evans said.
Mr. Reynolds stars in the upcoming Marvel superhero movie "Deadpool," while Mr. Hart is in the just-released flick "Ride Along 2." The two stars also have huge Twitter followings, with Mr. Hart at 25.2 million followers and Mr. Reynolds at nearly 1 million followers. Both men are expected to tweet about their Super Bowl ads as part of their deal with Hyundai.
Hyundai will also run a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl pre-game show called "Better" that launches the brand positioning, "We Make Things Better." The spot follows the life of a man from birth to adulthood as he strives to make the world better. The man -- who ends up working for Hyundai in the ad -- has a heart and soul that is visually represented in the spot by an engine shown imprinted in his chest. The spot includes the tagline, "Better Is the Engine that Drives Us."
The "better" positioning is among the first big brand moves made under Mr. Evans, who joined the automaker late last year from Subaru, and Tim Blett, who joined Innocean last year and serves as the shop's chief operating officer. Mr. Blett was formerly a partner at Doner before departing the agency in 2011.
Hyundai has been known for "rational buying points" such as warranty programs "and we sold a lot of cars with that," Mr. Evans said. But the "better" positioning is meant to communicate a "higher purpose," he added. "It's the bigger idea that gets people to emotionally connect" with Hyundai.