Hyundai Sponsors Oscar Broadcast, Replaces Jeff Bridges With Kim Basinger
March 2nd, 2010
By Richard Read
You have to hand it to Hyundai: the company is pretty good at making hay while the sun shines. Last year, the Korean automaker found itself rolling in positive press, thanks to the award-winning 2009 Hyundai Genesis and the company's widely acclaimed Assurance Program. In 2010, Hyundai has worked hard to maintain its forward momentum, buying up more spots than any other automaker during this year's Super Bowl, and Hyundai is once again the sole automotive sponsor of Sunday's Academy Awards broadcast.
According to Joel Ewanick, marketing vice president at Hyundai Motor America, the automaker is still riding a huge wave of publicity from its Super Bowl spots: "Our Web traffic since Super Bowl (on Feb. 7) is higher than it was during cash-for-clunkers which went for 40 to 50 days." To be fair, that game was the most-watched event in U.S. television history, so the bump from the Academy Awards isn't likely to be quite as profound. Still, the 2010 crop of Oscar nominees includes several popular flicks that have inspired passion in viewers -- movies like Avatar, The Blind Side, and Precious -- which may translate into higher viewership than in previous years.
But whether or not the Oscars' Nielsen rating improves, one thing is for sure: its advertising rates are clearly on the rise. Hyundai has purchased eight 30-second spots during the broadcast, which cost $2.5 million to $2.8 million a pop. That may seem steep, since it's roughly the same rate that advertisers paid for Super Bowl spots, but to Hyundai, it's money well spent. Ewanick says that purchase indicators like the number of people configuring Hyundais online and signing up for test drives is up 250% over last year, and the Academy Awards' broad, predominantly female audience is likely to continue pushing that number skyward. (Reminder: women control up to 72% of purchase decisions in the U.S.) Six of Hyundai's Oscar spots will focus on the 2011 Sonata, and the remaining two will tout the 2010 Genesis.
Despite all that good news, though, there has been one fly in Hyundai's ointment: Jeff Bridges, who has voiced Hyundai ads for several years, is an Oscar nominee, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has some fairly strict rules prohibiting nominees from appearing in ads during the Oscar broadcast. So Hyundai has opted to replace Bridges with several different actors, including Martin Sheen, Richard Dreyfuss, and Kim Basinger. (One of these things doesn't belong here.) Our congratulations go out to Bridges, and we look forward to his speedy return -- before anyone gets ideas about remaking The Big Lebowski with Kim in the lead.