Boston-connected celebs play with Hyundai Sonata's "smaht pahk" feature

INNOCEAN's Super Bowl spot first airs on "Today" and CBS special devoted to big-game ads.

Boston-connected celebs play with Hyundai Sonata's "smaht pahk" feature

Hyundai will air a 60-second Super Bowl spot for the updated Sonata during the first quarter of the game that uses a roster of Boston-connected celebrities to tout the car’s "smaht pahk" feature. 

The spot depicts Rachel Dratch and Chris Evans watching someone fail at parking between a monster truck and a big SUV. Along comes John Krasinski in a Sonata, who pulls alongside the coveted spot, hops out and uses the car’s remote smart parking assist function, or "smart park"  to have the car DIY. 

The actors have fun with the setting, over-enunciating the distinctive vowels of the classic Boston accent. They quip about Boston Harbor- or the Hah-bah, TD Garden, or the Gah-dan,  and, naturally, the cah and smaht pahk.

"The car is the focus of our celebrities’ attention," said Barney Goldberg, executive creative director at Hyundai agency INNOCEAN USA, in Huntington Beach, Calif. "It is a product demonstration, but it feels natural, too."

The idea came about as it became clear "remote smart parking assist" is a mouthful to promote. As is his practice for Hyundai Super Bowl advertising, Goldberg opened up concept-pitching to the entire agency. 

A creative team that typically works on customer relationship marketing came up with the winning concept. Eddie Babaian and Chris Dyer both have Boston roots, and started saying "smaht pahk."

"It became this fun thing around the office," said Goldberg. "We are hoping when people watch it, it will become infectious."

The spot was unveiled six days before the game, during the "Today" show, as part of its week-long series on Super Bowl advertising.  

As the commercials are hyped just a bit more with every year, it will also be featured during CBS’s "Super Bowl Greatest Commercials 2020" special Wednesday. In addition to airing the commercial, CBS will also feature a making-of segment.

The agency shot the spot in Boston to bake in as much local character as possible. Directed by Bryan Buckley, a Massachusetts native who has directed over 60 Super Bowl commercials, the spot is layered with Boston flavor. Observant viewers will pick up on hidden references, such as the drivers of the car that couldn’t smart-park being two of the city’s own Wahlberg brothers.

INNOCEAN is also orchestrating social-media components for Hyundai Sonata, including one with Rachel Dratch on TikTok where she preps people on how to speak Boston. A teaser spot featured Dratch trying to teach David "Big Papi" Ortiz, the beloved former Red Sox star, how to do the same.

"Basically, when we approach the Super Bowl, we try to keep a single focus, to make it entertaining for fans and viewers," said Goldberg. "It has got to be good. You’ve got to bring your best." 

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