- Hyundai and Toyota are the latest carmakers to shift their advertisements to address the pandemic, spokespeople confirmed to Ad Age. Both campaigns use archival footage of families and people helping one another.
- Hyundai will cancel its regular vehicle spots to promote its spring sales event for a new campaign on broadcast, digital and social highlighting its Assurance Job Loss Protection program that defers payments for people who recently bought or leased a car and lost their job during a certain timeframe. The replacement "Unpredictable" spot by Innocean USA touts how "nothing is more important than family, especially in uncertain times."
- Toyota's new "We Are Here for You" ad also plays up the importance of family and tells viewers "we are here for you now and in all the better days ahead." The national spot by Saatchi & Saatchi replaces a campaign promoting the carmaker's March sales event, and is the first in a broader effort in development that maintains an optimistic tone.
Hyundai and Toyota quickly pivoted their respective marketing messages to be more proactive during the coronavirus pandemic, which has led most of the country to come to a standstill. As non-essential businesses close from state to state, workers across industries are facing layoffs, furloughed hours or missed paychecks. These optimistic ads give a hopeful message that the country will get through this tough time, as the car factories themselves have paused production to help combat the spread.
Their adjusted campaigns follow Ford's move last week to change its ads in response to the pandemic. Ford's spot raised awareness around a similar relief program that aims to financially help customers impacted by the pandemic — a move that could build longer-term loyalty among car owners after the outbreak subsides.
Like Ford's new ads, Hyundai's and Toyota's fresh spots display archival footage, a creative strategy that reflects the need to deploy time-sensitive campaigns quickly. One potential risk of relying on previously shot footage surrounds the footage's visuals not quite matching with the current environment. In Toyota's latest spot, for example, the imagery of families and people in the community helping one another does align with the encouraged practice of social distancing. However, filming new ads during the pandemic would likely prove challenging (and run afoul of the same practices), with most businesses temporarily shuttered. The recent campaigns by Ford and Hyundai also enlist archival footage.
As car companies focus on messages of togetherness, some brands have pulled ads that may have come across as tone deaf or ill-timed. KFC, Coors, Hershey and Axe in recent weeks have either halted the rollout of new campaigns or cut their ads from airing altogether to avoid being associated with the virus. Marketers at large are taking extra precautions.
Unlike these cases, Hyundai and Toyota aren't debuting campaigns to sidestep a potential controversy, but instead to highlight how they're responding to the pandemic's impact on individuals' finances. The move signals how marketers still have opportunities in purpose-led creative during what's predicted to be a decline for the car industry, and a time when many brands will likely opt out entirely in order to play it safe.