Hyundai formally announced its new ties to the NFL last week, penning a deal to become an official automotive sponsor of the league. The deal will see Hyundai use NFL trademarks across various marketing channels, including branded content, advertising and promotional materials and given access to access to the likes of the Super Bowl, NFL Combine, NFL Draft, NFL Kickoff and NFL Playoffs. Hyundai will launch its activation with a major presence during NFL Kickoff activities on Sept. 10.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Tom Haidinger, President of Advantage International, the Sponsorship & Brand Experience Agency of Record for Hyundai Motor America, about the deal and the art of activation.
Haidinger on Hyundai’s approach to sports: They are in a very crowded category but Hyundai is aggressive and this is a nice signal to that spirit. Over the years, Hyundai continues to push the envelope around the relationships it has. The challenge is that certain platforms were simply not available because of long-term relationships. So, over the last several years, they have gotten involved with the Academy Awards, the Grammys as well as college football in a pretty heavy way and golf. Keeping an eye on the big properties that have been locked up, when the NFL came available, we had to take a hard look at that and it seemed like a great fit for the brand.
On the NFL deal: Several years ago, Hyundai became number one in brand loyalty. The perception gap, however, is that those who don’t know that brand well, don’t see that. You close that gap by getting people in and around their cars. Hyundai is a younger brand so these types of platforms allow them to get their products around new people. College football is a great example of how they have been able to do that. They currently have a portfolio of 17 schools and we are activating at all home games for them, getting people in and around their products. The other thing that has come to light through research is that equity play. If you align with fans and fandom, that rubs off from a perception standpoint. The NFL represents that equity play, being aligned with the most popular property in this country.
On activation: We will also have many touchpoints on the ground. Hyundai will be the presenting sponsor of the Kickoff Concert. If you think about August, when preseason games are going on, all NFL fans are excited because all teams are in first place. So Hyundai is going to be able to align with that connection fans have on that first game of the year. It will be a nice tentpole for them and we are going through plans for that now. This year will also mark the 50th Super Bowl and the league has plans to leverage its golden anniversary far and wide and we will take advantage of that. While a Super Bowl promotion might traditionally start sometime after Thanksgiving, there will be a lot of Super Bowl connectivity this year by a lot of partners and we will be latching on to that as well.
On deals with athletes: I’d say it is likely. There is obviously a nice way to bring to life the emotional context with athlete that is being developed. In addition, Hyundai currently has an independent relationship at the regional level with the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals and they will likely expand on that and develop further connectivity down to some local teams.
On advice to clients: One of the things we tell our clients, especially around a deal like this, is that they need to focus on what we can control that’s connected to what we can control and don’t try to bite off too much. In this deal we have a lot to work with, so we don’t necessarily need to dive in to opportunities down at the local level. But there’s a lot of benefits to be had at the local level as well so it can be extremely beneficial if handled properly. We try to remind them to focus on what they have.