Hyundai Made the Year’s Most Lunatic Car Ads, With Help From Tom Kuntz

R/GA London spoofs luxury advertising for the i30N

There’s so much horsepower in Hyundai’s new i30N model that it’ll literally turn you into a horse, says an oddball new campaign from R/GA London and, naturally, director Tom Kuntz.

A bizarre 60-second launch ad draws from three shorter dream-sequence spots to promote the automaker’s “N” line of performance cars, with everything but the vehicle shot in black and white.

In the weirdest of the set, by far, a nude male model approaches a hot tub as schlocky rock guitar plays in the background. A woman whispers “N.” The guy puts on a pair of high-end headphones and climbs in. “The power of horses,” says the voiceover, as an engine revs and a stallion gallops—and the i30N zips—across the screen.

A strange fit overtakes the man as the jacuzzi-cauldron begins to boil. He grows a pony tail, and his face gets longer. Before long, he’s got a fully equine face, and hooves for hands—like a quarter centaur in reverse.

A second :30, similarly styled as a sendup of atmospheric luxury fashion tropes, features another shirtless man inhaling a new cologne, “L’eau de burnt rubber,” and apparently becoming addicted to it. A third features another man, in the same vein, goofily wind gusting his own face with a giant hair dryer.

The overall effort, called “Feel the Feeling,” is meant to “subvert the clichés of luxury advertising while using its recognizable aesthetic,” according to Hyundai’s press release. “The approach is designed to feel ‘ironic premium’; a tongue[-stuck-firmly]-in-cheek poke at automotive and luxury brands taking themselves too seriously, with the line ‘Feel the feeling’ encapsulating this playful approach.”

“It is our mission for more people to enjoy the mischievous grin you get when driving an i30N, and these films are just the start,” says Mr. Minsoo Kim, head of the automaker’s marketing division. “Performance car advertising has been the same for decades and has become out of touch with what people really want. Not anymore. This campaign isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.”

Adds James Temple, R/GA’s chief creative officer for EMEA, “Our aim with this campaign is to stand out of the crowd, to shake up the staid formula of car advertising, and most important, to have some fun with viewers. We want people to rethink their views of Hyundai as a practical, compromise choice, to a brand which shows people through the power of ‘N’ that they make cars that are fun to drive and which aren’t like anything else out there.”

In other words, the concept is willfully zany, and requires an awful lot of explanation. It also risks trying too hard, though it’s not unentertaining—with the horse spot in particular pushing things far enough to qualify as truly absurd. The i30N is what’s known as a hot hatch—a powerful hatchback—and Hyundai is clearly reaching for a young male demographic with off-the-wall humor it hopes will speak to them (though the vehicle will not be available in the U.S.).

The horse-headphone ad is particularly apt, too, because the car itself will include an “electronic sound generator” for “extra acoustic drama to match the mood of the driver,” reports Jalopnik. Because, as is apparently common with similar cars, the engine doesn’t vroom loud enough on its own to be truly satisfying … arguably true of the commercials, too.

Hyundai Motor Company
Steve Seongbong Lim: Team Leader, Brand Communication Team
Cheol Jung: Manager, Brand Communication Team
Jake Jaesun Lee: Manager, Brand Communication Team
Cera YounKyung Noh: Assistant Manager, Brand Communication Team

Agency: R/GA
James Temple: EVP, Chief Creative Officer
Simon Wassef: Executive Strategy Director
Rodrigo Sobral: Executive Creative Director
Mark Fairbanks: Group Creative Director
Edwin Latchford: Creative Director
Dan Northcote-Smith: Senior Art Director
Nick Moss: Senior Copywriter
Charlie Smith: Group Account Director
Taraneh Khosrowshahi: Executive Producer
Alison Cummins: Executive Producer
Jessica Zogaib: Senior Producer
Matt Deeming: Editor
Matias Alvarez: Associate Design Director
Mary Lynch: Production Assistant

Production: MJZ London
Tom Kuntz: Director
Darius Khondji: Director of Photography
Lara Baldwin: Senior Producer
Fiona Martin: Production Manager
Asylum Models: Models provided by
John Kirby: Music Composer

Editors: The Whitehouse
Russell Icke: Senior Editor
Iain Whitewright: Editor

Grading: Company 3 New York
Stefan Sonnenfeld: Senior colourist

Post Production and Visual effects: The Moving Picture Company London
Lisa Vaughan: Producer
Paul Wilmot: SFX Artist
Simon Holden: SFX Artist

Sound Studio: 750 MPH
Sam Ashwell: Editor

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.