Use the Power of Fandom to Spread Your Brand’s Message

How Hyundai partnered with BTS to inspire a generation

Fans embody the most powerful force in marketing.

But fandom and fans are most often associated with celebrity, not necessarily brands. Yet the brands that are excelling are cultivating fans in the same way a celebrity would.

As you look to build brand fandom, start with a collaboration with a mass influencer. Positioned as brand ambassadors, influencers offer a quick and accessible platform to directly engage their fans. If your brand offers genuinely engaging and relevant content this captive audience can be a powerful voice for your brand.

Hyundai’s partnership with global pop sensation BTS is an example of this. BTS’s several million strong global fans are something they never under-estimate or take for granted. Their fans are at the heart of everything they do as they are fundamental to the band’s success.

Hyundai has reflected on this with its partnership with the multi-award-winning global pop band. They share a long-term relationship founded on genuine, mutually aligned interests, a shared commitment to sustainability and the ambitious goal to protect the environment for future generations.

Hyundai’s partnership with BTS supports its ambitions for building a similar global fandom of its own, putting an audience of millions of would-be consumers within easy reach. These are fans who are highly receptive to the content being produced by Hyundai and BTS due to their shared passion to protect the planet.

A shared story based on values, not product

Rather than brand-led content creation, Hyundai and BTS work closely to co-create content that reflects fans’ interests and doesn’t center on product. Hyundai believes it’s crucial that partnerships focus on values versus product and are long-termist to genuinely engage potential customers, create lasting impact, increase brand value and sustain loyalty over time.

BTS’s enormous and highly engaged fandom of global consumers is known as the BTS Army. Proof of their power on social media, BTS has been named Billboard’s Top Social Artist for three years in a row. Ultimately, when BTS speaks, its army listens and responds.

In September 2018 BTS gave a now famed speech to the UN where it called on young people to learn to love themselves and find their voices. During this speech, the band’s fans were mentioned several times, evidence of how entwined they are in BTS’ purpose. It’s a sign of their status and incredible influence that they were invited to speak by the UN and demonstrates the vital role they play in reaching a vast audience to spread positive values.

Content that drives engagement

Hyundai and BTS’s shared passion to protect the planet from climate change is the basis for the content they create together. To mark Earth Day on April 22, Hyundai and BTS co-created a film that highlights the beauty of nature and the earth. The film features each band member’s personal choice of an element of the environment they most wish to preserve for future generations. Using stunningly shot scenes of nature the film aims to highlight aspects of nature which we must protect to ensure they remain as they are, now and forever.

The film was teased with video and static content and features band members’ voices and handwriting to engage with the band’s audience and communicate Hyundai’s message. The final shot in the main film is a microphone, which acts as a visual representation and invitation for the viewer to respond and join in the conversation, echoing the band’s UN speech.

The content is based on the mantra of, “Hydrogen, the positive energy for the future because of you,” which underlies Hyundai’s commitment to and global leadership in hydrogen technology and its launch of the first-ever massed produced Hydrogen fuelled car, NEXO.

For Hyundai, the focus is on reaching a younger audience, one the brand calls sustainable socials, to convert them into brand fans. These independent-minded, environmentally conscious consumers see status as something which is driven by experience and represents Hyundai’s future consumers. And when a branded film racks up 100 million views in less than a month, it demonstrates that this unique approach is hitting the mark and building a fandom in its own right for Hyundai.

Wonhong Cho is the EVP of the Hyundai Motor Company. As both the Global CMO and the chief customer experience officer, Cho is responsible for the global brand strategy, marketing activities and creative works of the company.