Editor's note: The four spots take up three minutes of air time. An earlier version misstated the length of the air time.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Whether the Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers end up winning the Super Bowl, Hyundai Motor Co. wants to come away as the winner of the advertising free-for-all that surrounds America’s most-watched live event.
Hyundai, which opened its pocketbook last summer to replace General Motors as automotive sponsor of the National Football League, has bought four advertising slots totaling three minutes of airtime during the Feb. 7 TV broadcast.
With appearances by actor-comedian Kevin Hart, heartthrob actor Ryan Reynolds and rampaging bears, Hyundai hopes its advertisements grab Americans’ attention as the Korean automaker prepares to launch three very different vehicles: a redesigned Elantra compact sedan, the G90 luxury car under its new Genesis luxury brand and the Prius-fighting Ioniq hybrid.
The four spots, reviewed by Automotive News ahead of their release, mark the start of a new advertising campaign under the slogan “We Make Things Better” and reflect the sharper messaging that Hyundai sought last summer when it hired Subaru veteran Dean Evans as U.S. marketing chief and shuffled leadership of its corporate-owned advertising agency, Innocean.
“This is a big day for us,” Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in an interview. “We’ve got an entirely new marketing team and an entirely new agency team, and these ads are our chance to set a new brand direction to define what Hyundai is and what we stand for.”
Hyundai’s first advertisement, “Better,” is slated to run during the Super Bowl pregame show. It tells the story of a child with a glowing motor in his chest who is inspired to do good for the world and grows up to become a Hyundai designer.
The second, “First Date,” stars Hart, a comedian best known for his high-energy stand-up act and the Ride Along films. He plays a fiercely protective father who lends his Genesis to his daughter’s boyfriend for a date and by using the Hyundai Blue Link service, follows the Genesis to keep the boyfriend on good behavior.
This advertisement, regarded by some Hyundai marketers as the strongest of the four, is nestled in the prime slot between coin flip and kickoff.
The third advertisement, called “The Chase,” shows a couple running from bears in the forest. They use a voice-activated feature on a smartwatch to start the engine of the Elantra for a quick getaway.
The last of the four spots, “Ryanville,” features two young women driving an Elantra through a town where every stranger, from police officer to pedestrian, looks like Ryan Reynolds. Distracted by one Ryan, the driver nearly runs into another Ryan as he walks across the street. But the Elantra -- with its automatic braking system with pedestrian detection -- stops the car first.
None of the four spots explicitly uses the “We Make Things Better” motto.
In an interview, Evans said the slogan, which will be rolled out slowly over the course of the year, is intended to convey Hyundai’s corporate culture of hard work, perfectionism and a ready embrace of new technology.
“To me, the best thing we could do was wrap up the good, authentic DNA that was already within the organization and put a creative bow on it,” Evans said, explaining the thinking behind the motto.
Hyundai’s plans for the Super Bowl go beyond TV and online marketing to experiential marketing around San Francisco, near the site of the game.