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An Interview with the People Behind the Online Launch of New Vehicle Models

Behind-the-scenes stories of Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and GENESIS's online new car presentation and marketing trends of the post COVID-19 era were discussed.

From left, Manager Hyoun-oh Yun was in charge of Digital Unboxing of All-new Elantra, Manager Ol-lim Joo led the online presentation of The All-new GENESIS G80, and Manager Ja-ung Ku organized the Sorento Talk Talk |Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and GENESIS hosted a non-face-to-face online presentation of new cars.

Today, excavators are sold online and new cars are unveiled through online streaming. Hyundai Motor Group conducted its first online vehicle launch. Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and GENESIS marketing managers shared their experience and some new contactless marketing trends through an interview.

You must have worked hard to prepare for the launch of the new vehicle models. There must have been lots of changes made when the launch event went online.

Manager Ol-lim Joo said they created content that can be talked about repeatedly through the online presentation.

Ol-lim Joo For the safety of our customers and employees, we had to move the 3rd generation G80 launch event to online. I remember struggling to make all the necessary changes in just a month and a half. Unable to use the things we had prepared to show off the G80 at an offline event, we applied various video editing techniques for dramatic effects. The biggest challenge was to tell stories about the new technologies and designs in a limited time frame in an engaging manner.

Ja-ung Ku While conventional offline presentations are targeted at the media as the main audience, we had to adjust everything to our potential customer’s perspective. Since it was an important event, we thought a lot about how to make it approachable while maintaining the significance of the event.

Hyoun-oh Yun Every time we launch a new car, we usually invite our loyal customers to the event. Since the Elantra has the reputation as a car for everyone, we wanted to try something new and use the event as an opportunity. We suggested focusing on customers, involving them rather than a lecture style one-way presentation.

The online new car presentation explained the features of the vehicle through people in various fields. Why did you choose to do so?

The All-new Elantra digital unboxing introduced the characteristics of the vehicle in a straightforward and natural way.

Hyoun-oh Yun The All-new Elantra had already made its world premiere in LA, so it didn’t make much sense to do another unveiling. We chose the unboxing format to increase the attention of customers and chose customer representatives such as Oh-joon Ahn and Bom-yi Kwon for our panel. We tried to be honest, discussing even some sensitive issues, such as the notorious triangle design elements and character line which had drawn a lot of criticism, rather than just praising the vehicle.

Ja-ung Ku A talk show format with entertainer Jae-woo Kim was used for the online Sorento launch. He is an influencer with nearly 1.5 million followers and is known as a caring father which matchs the profile of Sorento’s main audience. However, there was some objection to recruiting him for such a big event because this kind of role is traditionally reserved for TV announcers. We are glad that we stuck with Jae-wook Kim who fits well with Sorento in terms of influence, recognition and product concept.

Ol-lim Joo For the 3rd generation G80, there was already a lot of information about G80 floating around online, raising customer expectations, before its launch. As a manufacturer, we thought we should focus on providing reliable and authentic information. Rather than selecting a specific person as the face of GENESIS, we decided that it would be more effective to have the G80 introduced in a serious tone by an internal figure with a bit of celebrity flair, Mr. Biermann.

What was the key area you focused on when preparing for the online presentation?

After the digital launch, we offered a test drive for influencers to experience the G80 from a variety of perspectives.

Ol-lim Joo The online presentation was an opportunity for customers to discover the new technologies in the new GENESIS model. However, we had to think a lot about which of the various special features we would focus on, since the video length is limited. Viewers’ concentration drops significantly as video length increases. We held a test-drive event for influencers after the digital launch to help viewers experience The All-new GENESIS G80 from different perspectives. Lastly, we were meticulous in our efforts to reduce COVID-19 risks during filming, from how we selected a filming location to sanitizing everything we could.

A researcher who had been engaged in development of the All-new Elantra introduced the vehicle in the digital unboxing event like in a talk show.

Hyoun-oh Yun Preparing a good script was the biggest challenge. Professional writers wrote a good draft, but their understanding of cars was not as good as the engineers. So, many engineers helped improve the draft script. It wouldn’t have been possible to write a great script if it wasn’t for the support of everyone at the design center, R&D division and domestic business HQ. Due to the change in format, the expressions we use also had to be changed. For example, we switched the phrase “You can control the heated seat with voice recognition” to a more relaxed and customer-friendly phrase of “Turn on the butt warmer”.

Ja-ung Ku I also had a lot of difficulties while working on the script. I had to completely convert the existing presentation into a conversation script format. I had to make it easy to understand and entertaining while maintaining Sorento’s dignity. Fortunately, Jae-woo Kim had a very good understanding of cars in general thanks to his extensive experience as a co-host on a TV automobile show called “The Bunker.”

As the main organizer, how would you evaluate the online launch event?

A professional racer drove the vehicle and experienced the ride comfort, driving performance, and new technologies in person.

Hyoun-oh Yun Many people told me that we did well even though it was a new type of an event. My main regret is having to stream a pre-recorded version because going live seemed a bit too risky. I think after we gain a bit more experience, we will be able to do a live streaming event interacting with ordinary customers in real time.

Ol-lim Joo I think the biggest advantage of the online launch event is that it has a ripple effect that goes beyond the limits of a one-off offline event. It has the potential to go viral globally. I have some regrets about relying on a traditional formula. Next time, I want to create a new type of content that can only be created by a car manufacturer.

Many experts expect that even if COVID-19 ends, non-face-to-face marketing methods such as online new car presentations will still be preferred. What kind of changes do you think the auto marketing will undergo in the post COVID-19 era?

Ja-ung Ku is considering a more customer-friendly marketing approach in the field of public relations that are changed due to COVID-19.

Ja-ung Ku COVID-19 delivered a big blow but I think it also created an opportunity for a change in the brand promotion sector. Customer engagement through online content was much stronger than large corporations had thought. There was already a significant transition towards non-face-to-face services going on. Manufacturers including Hyundai and Kia should use this opportunity to develop a more engaging marketing approach for customers.

Ol-lim Joo In last May and June, GENESIS operated the “GENESIS Cinema,” a drive-in theater in Yongin, Paju and Busan. It was a non-face-to-face event designed to let customers experience GENESIS in a more comfortable setting and to strengthen ties with the brand. I expect other brands to develop new and diverse forms of marketing activities that combine online and offline experiences.

Hyoun-oh Yun Cosmetics company Lush holds an Earth day march annually. This year, the event was held as an online event. Customers from all over the world created their own avatars and participated in YouTube live streaming till the end to see their avatars finish the march. Lush successfully conducted an integrated online and offline marketing campaign with customers capturing the march scenes and sharing them on social media after the event. Cars are very expensive and have limitations due to safety concerns, and are not perhaps an ideal product for online marketing. However, I think we can learn from Lush’s example.

Text by: Byeol-nim Jung
Photos by: Yong-gil Ahn, DOT studio