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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Welcome Back to the Commute

Bronze Honor in Auto

Entered in Integrated Campaign, Real Time Response


The sub-compact SUV segment is a common entry point for drivers under 35, but Hyundai has been underperforming compared to Honda, Toyota, Subaru and Kia. The all-new, redesigned KONA was our opportunity to capture more of the under-35 market, and lay the groundwork for lifetime customers who then trade up to our larger SUVs and EVs.

Our core target audience are emerging singles and couples who are focused on independence, exploration and figuring life out. One of their top priorities is building their careers.

However, while building a career is important, they don’t love everything that comes with it—like the commute. (For the youngest of them who began working during the pandemic, this may be the first time they are commuting.) And by mid-2023, 50% of the U.S. had returned to commuting post-pandemic.

Hyundai aims to make a richer journey possible for all, so for this audience that means easing the pain of a commute. With KONA’s class-leading interior space and interior amenities like advanced safety and intuitive technology, the right vehicle can make your commute so much better.

The campaign needed to:

Strategy and Execution

No one, and I mean NO ONE, was psyched about returning to office. To launch its commuter-friendly vehicle, we latched on to one quickly spreading and slightly infuriating reality that was going on the exact same month we were launching this car: tech companies like Meta, Apple and Google, agencies, and even ZOOM--a company that made its mark enabling remote work--were requiring people to come back to the office in person. While we couldn’t fight the RTO mandates, we could show how the Hyundai KONA made commuting more pleasant…all while helping build awareness for the brand. 

In a series of broadcast spots directed by Peter Thwaites, we followed a cast of young-professionals who suddenly found themselves faced with commuting again. From the moment the news breaks, to their first struggle to get dressed again, to the moment of doubt before leaving the driveway and all the madness that comes with the journey. The vignette approach set our drivers on a common mission to get to work, while using the KONA’s various comfort, tech or EV features to overcome the dread of it all. Set to Flavien Berger’s  “Le Fete Noir,” the campaign set out to show the KONA as a place of comfort in the social cacophony of commuting again. 

In social channels, we created custom executions that played into a trend we were already seeing in our feeds: people doing weird-ass things while stuck in traffic. Our bespoke social elements for TikTok and Reels highlighted the familiar (people eating in their cars) and the extreme (people full-on searing steak or live-streaming a self-produced podcast). We complemented the campaign with additional pieces that focused on how our minds wander in gridlock, as well as created some tools to help lessen the sting of the commute with motivational quotes and daily playlists on Spotify.

Once the campaign was live, Hyundai channel chatter quickly went to, first, BASHING commutes and second, commending Hyundai for nailing what so many people hated about returning to work. Our community management team swiftly responded to posts and comments with smart responses that further solidified Hyundai was on their side—and had a fun car and a sense of humor about the unpleasant realities of having to go back to the office.




Video for Welcome Back to the Commute

Entrant Company / Organization Name

INNOCEAN USA, Hyundai Motor America


Entry Credits