Hyundai Motor Co. is hoping that five television spots before and during the Feb. 5 Super Bowl game will help to bolster its rising brand recognition and continue big sales gains from the past few years.
North American CEO John Krafcik says the fast-growing brand is working on a 60-second spot that will run right before kickoff, plus two ads on the pregame show and two during the first and third quarters of the game.
He wouldn't say how much the Korean automaker is spending on the ads, which will compete with most creative spots American companies have to offer during one of television's highest-rated and most expensive sporting events. Last year Super Bowl ads cost companies about $3 million for 30 seconds.
Chrysler Group LLC's two-minute spot featuring rapper Eminem was among those that created the most Super Bowl buzz this past February, and it helped kick off what has been a strong sales year for the recovering company. The cinematic third-quarter ad showed Eminem driving through Detroit and introduced a new car, the Chrysler 200 sedan, amid gritty scenes of the city. A voiceover talked about how the city has survived going through "hell and back."
Krafcik said Hyundai hopes to have standout spots as well, but it will focus more on a brand message rather than going for entertainment value.
"We're competing with Doritos and Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch," he said Friday at an auto show briefing for reporters at a technical center near Ann Arbor, Mich. "Those are tough competitors from an entertainment point of view."
Hyundai, he said, might have a little more fun with its ads this year and try to make them more memorable than in the past. But it's also trying to sway about a third of the auto market that has a neutral view of the brand, which sells the Elantra compact, Sonata midsize car and Tucson crossover SUV, among other models.
Hyundai has had huge sales growth in a lackluster U.S. auto market. Through October, the company has sold more than 545,000 vehicles, already passing last year's record sales of 538,000, according to Autodata Corp. Hyundai's U.S. market share has risen from 4.2 percent in 2009 to 5.2 percent so far this year, and analysts believe the company has taken sales mainly from Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., both of which have experienced declines.
Hyundai's sales are so strong that it's having trouble supplying cars and crossovers to its dealers, Krafcik said. It has raised the annual output at its Montgomery, Ala., factory to around 330,000 this year, and will produce more cars in North America in 2012, he said. But he wouldn't comment when asked if the company plans to build a new factory in the U.S.