Think big and act small is the mantra of this Huntington Beach agency that’s infused with the maverick surfer ethos.
Thinking big means coming up with wild ideas for challenger brands – as well as for Hyundai/Kia. Innocean USA partnered with neuroeconomist Paul Zak, AKA Dr. Love, to explore the love we have for brands; and it wrangled film director Amir Bar-Lev and Grammy-winning musician Mark Ronson, of “Uptown Funk” fame, to host a seminar at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
Innocean USA, part of the Innocean Worldwide agency, was founded to provide advertising services for Hyundai and Kia, but it’s expanded its U.S. footprint and client roster since 2012, when golf-wear-maker Footjoy became its first non-automotive client. The U.S. branch is now 300 people strong, with offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Hawaii. The agency is cagey about just how much of its billings come from Hyundai/Kia, but in 2014, Reuters reported that its domestic Hyundai-related business had dropped to 43 percent in 2013 from 100 percent in 2005.
Innocean has a full-service media team that includes strategy; planning; execution; optimization; and reporting on results and ROI. According to Executive Creative Director Greg Braun, the agency’s creatives and media experts work collaboratively. “We don’t want media to be an afterthought,” he says. “When we attack projects and campaigns, we always want our media experts shoulder to shoulder with creatives, strategists and account people.”
According to James Zayti, group director of Hyundai Media, as the account planning team begins to define the target for a campaign, “We build a thematic of what our target does on a daily basis: Where are they most receptive to messaging?”
Innocean USA provides media account management for Hyundai/KIA; Berkshire Hathaway Homes; energy company NRG; Alpina Foods.
For the FIFA World Cup Tournament, Innocean worked with ESPN, Univision and other media partners to embed Hyundai into the programming. Says Braun, “Most of the brands made platforms for famous athletes. We love them too, but we made it a forum for fan passion.” Innocean created the meme #BecauseFutbol, using it in TV spots and social media. Braun says, “It becomes not only a rallying cry but an excuse for any crazy thing you might do.”
Zayti adds, “Each time we’d run the work in halftime, our brand would trend organically on Twitter.” In fact, Hyundai saw a 1,415 percent lift in Hyundai mentions in relation to World Cup or soccer chatter, with 92 percent positive sentiment, shattering pre-campaign benchmarks with 95,328 total mentions of #BecauseFutbol.
In February of this year, Hyundai became the exclusive auto sponsor of IFC’s Comedy Crib, and Innocean created a web series called Sound Advice, featuring Vanessa Bayer of SNL. Each episode opens with a custom Hyundai integration featuring Bayer driving or vamping in front of a Hyundai Veloster; then, her character, a ditzy media coach named Janessa, attempts to give advice to famous musicians, including Al Yankovich and tktktk.
Zayti says, “We looked at the media side and saw IFC as a great space that shared a lot of brand identity with Hyundai. Then, speaking with the creative side, we took it another step.” Moving beyond product placements, Innocean’s writers worked with IFC’s writers to integrate the brand further into the segments.
“For all product integrations, we sit down as a team to see where we can take it,” he says. “Sometimes we just want a car in a TV show or movie, but sometimes we think there’s an appetite to take it much further.”
Check out other agency profiles recently published by Portada:
-Spark, a Boutique Backed by a Global Agency Network
-The Media Kitchen, How Chefs Cook Up Media Plans