Instead of running a Super Bowl commercial this year, Hyundai is getting into a fictional version of the game with the help of an imaginary ad crew.
The automaker’s upcoming Ioniq 5 was featured in the ABC sitcom “black-ish” this month, with star Anthony Anderson, who plays an ad executive named Andre Johnson, working on a faux Super Bowl commercial for the electric vehicle.
As Johnson and his team brainstormed outlandish ideas — “a musical number! Ioniq 5, kind of like the Jackson 5” — Anderson’s character worked in references to Ioniq 5 features and made sure viewers knew it was an EV. While the team threw out suggestions about a dog plugging the vehicle in and lemurs that can talk, an image of the crossover was on a TV in the background.
In the end, Johnson pitches a concept in which the Ioniq 5 passes a horse-drawn buggy and an array of newer vehicles. The driver gets home and demonstrates the reverse-charging feature by using the vehicle to power string lights over his patio.
Viewers don’t get to see a visual of the idea, but Johnson’s vision isn’t far off the theme of a real Ioniq 5 ad that was set to air during the NFL’s conference championship games Sunday, Jan. 30.
The show approached Hyundai first about the episode’s premise.
“They were pretty spot on on how we thought we would want to depict Ioniq 5,” Angela Zepeda, Hyundai Motor America’s chief marketing officer, told Automotive News. “Our creative team at Innocean and our strategy team, they did kind of work with them a little bit on giving them a little more sense of where we were going with our campaign on Ioniq 5. Other than that, they had the idea and really presented it back to us, and we fell in love with it.”
The Ioniq 5 integration builds on Hyundai’s relationship with Disney, ABC’s parent. The two companies collaborated last year on a superhero-packed launch campaign for the redesigned Hyundai Tucson that featured characters from Marvel, which is owned by Disney.
Hyundai’s affiliation with “black-ish” over the past year has made the show’s creators think of the automaker first when interesting ideas arise, said Jason Croddy, senior vice president of strategy for Canvas Worldwide, Hyundai’s media buying agency.
Croddy, in a statement to Automotive News, said Hyundai had a positive experience working with “black-ish” during “the height of the COVID pandemic in 2021 — and that perfectly set the stage for this even bigger opportunity in the show’s final season.”
The sitcom, now in its eighth season, is a platform that puts the Ioniq 5 in front of African American viewers who Zepeda says are interested in innovation and technology. As automakers promote a multitude of new EVs to consumers, Hyundai sees “black-ish” as a way to get the Ioniq 5 into the fray.
“We wanted to be in the vernacular, the conversation, pop culture, getting people to talk about Ioniq 5 just as much as they’ll talk about the other vehicles that are coming out and being talked about by other OEMs,” Zepeda said. “We didn’t want to miss out on that. This was our way of being in the Super Bowl without being in the Super Bowl.”
Hyundai’s previous appearances in the show include a seventh-season episode with Johnson’s son, played by Miles Brown, showcasing the driverless parking capabilities of the Santa Fe crossover. But the Super Bowl ad concept went beyond simple product placement.
Zepeda said Innocean gave the “black-ish” writers guidelines to use while assembling the script. She said Hyundai wanted the show’s team to know about the Ioniq 5’s positioning and how the tech-filled crossover is the “best expression” of the brand while representing evolution.
The focus on evolution came through in some of the episode’s dialogue, and the tag line Anderson’s character pitches for the Ioniq 5: “The journey at its most evolved.”
“We really leave it to the show writers and producers to come up with what they think is right for the show and we just let them do their magic,” Zepeda said. “I almost felt like many times they were much closer to our team than they are. They really got the essence of the vehicle, how we wanted it to be presented and then fully understood how we wanted to take it to market.”