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Hyundai Hoping For A Big Win At Super Bowl XLVI

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It's that time of year again -- time for family and friends to come together and celebrate one of America's most joyous events, the Super Bowl. With less than three months to go until kickoff, advertisers like Hyundai are already huddling to prepare their game-day strategies.

Hyundai has announced that it will buy no fewer than five spots before and during the Super Bowl broadcast on February 5, 2012. Two ads will run during the pre-game show, another two will appear during the game itself, and one massive 60-second spot will air right before kickoff. 

Why the big push? Hyundai has been making major strides in the U.S. market in recent years. It received a big boost in brand recognition when the Hyundai Genesis walked off with the 2009 North American Car of the Year award, and the Hyundai Assurance program became a smash hit with jittery new-car buyers during the recent recession. Even now, as the American auto market remains fragile, Hyundai has been zooming past most of the competition, with over 545,000 vehicles sold in 2011 as of October 31 -- a 20.5% increase over 2010.

And yet, roughly one-third of U.S. auto buyers remain on the fence when it comes to Hyundai, with neither a positive or negative feeling about the brand. Ultimately, that's why Hyundai is spending over $10 million on Super Bowl ads.

Will it work? Maybe. Hyundai has developed a loyal following in the U.S., but fans may be more infatuated with the company's cars than its advertising. Hyundai commercials are typically safe and conservative, backed by the warm, fuzzy baritone of Jeff Bridges. Their lack of "edge" may prevent those ads from being as memorable as the ones produced by Hyundai's sister, Kia -- a brand that has earned accolades for some of its campaigns (and lawsuits and puzzled looks for others).

What does this mean for consumers? Above all, it means that Hyundai is planning to remain very, very competitive in the North American auto market. As evidence of that, the company retooled its Assurance program back in April (it now guarantees trade-in value), and Hyundai has also unveiled sportier, younger-trending models like the "genre-busting" Veloster to appeal to a wider range of shoppers. Hyundai has also been eating away at the U.S. market share of other Asian automakers like Toyota and Honda, both of which have seen major setbacks due to natural disasters this year. No matter how you feel about the brand now, you can probably expect Hyundai to keep the guns a-blazing for some time to come.

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