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Lifestyle Business

Humanizing a Hyundai

STILL TALKING - Enrico Miguel T. Subido - The Philippine Star

There’s something different about the new “Live Brilliant” Hyundai commercials. The cars look good and are still the central feature of the ads – that hasn’t changed. But unit prices don’t flash onscreen, and there is an absence of any text or dialogue containing horsepower and mileage details. Specs and automotive jargon don’t seem to figure anywhere in the new campaign. Instead, much more detail has been placed on cinematography, lighting, camera angles, music, and mostly, witnessing a human connection with the vehicles.

Hyundai’s “Live Brilliant” movement aims to humanize the brand by identifying with raw emotions inherent in all people. By exploring concepts such as love, friendship, the self, and family in the new commercials, the cars are portrayed as being much more than just modes of transport. They are part of the person.

“When you have an emotional connection with a product, its value tends to be greater with you,” says Frank Ahrens, director of Hyundai’s Global PR Team. “You stop thinking about it as a commodity and start thinking about it as an integral part of your life. From a company perspective, thinking this way allows you to do a couple of things: you are able to create customers for life, and you are able to create a real connection with the consumer.”

One dealer in Korea has incorporated a flower shop in his showroom. Since then, he’s been experiencing a record number of female walk-in customers.

The shift in Hyundai’s PR and marketing paradigms is timely, but only because the company has also stepped up its game in both research and development, as well as production. A recent trip to Korea included a visit to Hyundai’s ultra-sophisticated R&D center in Namyang (where a special demonstration on safety and standards resulted in a brand new Hyundai Accent meeting its demise against a reinforced wall) and a tour of Hyundai Steel, an enormous facility which will be capable of producing an estimated 24 million tons of steel by 2013. The creation of high-standard, high-value products that consumers will enjoy is still the main objective of the Hyundai group. Now, however, a shift is happening: from creating a product of value to one that is valuable.

This is an interesting concept in that items are given greater value initially because of concrete parameters. In a car, good mileage, impressive torque and horsepower ratings, and superb build quality are some factors that can positively affect value. But for the car to be “valuable,” it has to become a part of one’s life.

Filipino talents wowing the crowd during Filipino day at the 2012 Expo, held this year in Yeosu.

“One thing you will notice about the Live Brilliant campaign is that we’re trying to emphasize the car as what’s referred to as a ‘third space’ in life,” continues Ahrens. “Your first space is your home, and your second space is your office – what’s your third place? Where do you spend time outside of those two to enjoy a space? The car is really, in many ways, the original third space because so many things happen to us in our cars – we fall in love, we fall out of love, we have memorable trips, we go through thresholds in life. And that’s what we’re trying to do with our cars, to create that emotional attachment where the car ceases to be a just a car.”

Hyundai understands the existence of a global marketplace. Domestic markets will always be the first target of homegrown brands, but in order to reach more people, a global mindset must be adopted. The “Live Brilliant” campaign fits perfectly into this approach since emotions are oftentimes wordless, and powerful, nonetheless. With this in mind, the language barrier becomes less of a problem since emotions are common all over the world. Anger is the same here, in Korea, in the States, in Europe; and so are happiness and elation. By connecting like this with the world, Hyundai is creating a “valuable” impact on its consumers. And the numbers show that it surely is working here, as the Philippines is largest market for Hyundai in Asia aside from Korea, of course.

Inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace compound, classic structures are preserved. It’s a nice piece of history in a modern city like Seoul.

Of course living “brilliantly” wouldn’t be complete without looking towards the future. Companies are more vocal about their environmental concerns these days, and Hyundai is no exception. By the end of 2012, Hyundai will have a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell cars ready for customer testing. They intend to be the leader in this technology. Hyundai’s patented Blue Drive technology is also doing well, breaking previous mileage and fuel ratings while also reducing overall amounts of CO2 emissions. All this makes perfect sense when placed in context with the company tagline: “New thinking, new possibilities.”

The new campaign of Hyundai makes one thing clear: that being spec-crazy oftentimes makes one forget the true joys in life – like hitting the open road, alone or with loved ones, for no other reason than wanting to get in the car and drive. And while the Hyundai group of companies is more than capable of speedily pumping out unit after unit, they are aware that by doing this, quality will suffer. The company goal is not to be No. 1 in just numbers. Hyundai wants to be No. 1 in people’s hearts.

With a pavilion at the Expo 2012 in Yeosu, Hyundai is able to further promote its global campaign. With an interactive space like this, it is able to really connect with people, not just through facts and figures, which can be boring at times.

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Visit brilliant.hyundai.com to check out the new commercials and to learn more about Hyundai’s new global campaign. Also check out www.hyundai.com/ph to see what Hyundai is up to locally.

E-mail me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter @_stilltalking.

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