How Hyundai's Viral Hit 'Message to Space' Came Together

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Before Hyundai could send "A Message to Space," it had to deal with a slew of hurdles on Earth.

Erratic weather conditions were just one of several challenges Hyundai faced in its mission to create a message out of tire marks in the ground of the arid Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada. The effort was centered on helping a 13-year-old Houston girl named Stephanie send a message to her astronaut father, who's gone for months at a time on the International Space Station.

Hyundai used 11 Genesis sedans that had to be synchronized as they carved the giant letters. The message spanned 2.1 square miles, earning recognition from Guinness World Records as the largest tire-track image ever.

The video documenting how the message came together has drawn more than 30.3 million views (as of today) since Hyundai posted it on YouTube on April 9.

With so many hurdles, nobody could've guaranteed how this massive project would turn out, said Scott Noh, head of the overseas marketing group for Hyundai Motor Co., in an email Q&A with Ad Age sibling Automotive News about the "Message to Space" campaign.

Q: How did Hyundai come across Stephanie in the first place?

A: While thinking of more easy-to-understand ways to deliver our philosophy of caring for our customers, we came up with an idea of connecting loved ones no matter how far they are apart from each other. Cars can connect people by physically moving them, but we focused more on the side of emotional connections regardless of the distance. While the farthest distance we could think of was between outer space and Earth, we came across Stephanie's story. We thought that we might be able to do something for her and her family, and the whole idea started there.

Were there any doubts that this idea could be pulled off?

As this campaign was unprecedented, nobody could guarantee how it would turn out. However, that made us even more excited as we challenged something that was never tried before. We, of course, faced a series of difficulties such as finding the optimal location, dealing with ever-changing weather conditions and driving 11 Genesis cars in a perfect synchronization, to name a few. In spite of such hurdles, our team finally pulled it off with our "can do" spirit.

What other areas were considered for the canvas?

We went over every dry lake in the U.S, as long as it was big enough to be seen from outer space. Considering numerous geographical and meteorological factors as well as weather conditions, Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada was chosen as the most optimal location.

How long did it take to create the message?

It took three days for video shooting alone to create the message on Delamar Dry Lake. Separately, it took one and a half months to prepare for the video shooting, since we kicked off searching for the optimal location.

What message does Hyundai want to convey for this ad?

We aimed to demonstrate our vision of being 'a lifetime partner in automobiles and beyond' to customers in a way that they could intuitively understand. As cars have now become a companion of people's daily lives, we wish to be their lifetime partner and a brand beyond simply being a means of transportation. Through this campaign, we hope that customers get to know more about Hyundai brand and what we are striving to deliver to them.

Did you ever imagine that the luxurious Genesis would be driving through a desert in a marketing campaign?

Few people may have ever imagined a group of Genesis sedans driving together in a desert, sending a message to space. This also proves how innovative this campaign is.

Where will the "Message to Space" campaign go from here? Are any more videos being released (If so, will the same family be used in future videos)?

We do not have further plans related to the campaign.

--Vince Bond Jr. is a reporter for Automotive News.

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