The first Genesis crossover is finally on the way, and the upstart brand is using the new model not just to ignite sales after struggling to build a dealer body with three sedans. It’s also leveraging the Super Bowl, celebrity couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, a new logo and the Young Luxury slogan to raise its profile with American consumers.
The recruitment of the “spokes- couple” goes beyond enlisting two A-list stars with nearly 40 million followers combined on Instagram. It speaks to the very aesthetic the marque wants to carve out for itself: young at heart, stylish but not snobby, accessible, fun-loving and different from the boomer brands that take themselves too seriously.
“When we think about John and Chrissy, they’re approachable, they’re fun, they’re young luxury,” Mark Del Rosso, CEO of Genesis North America, told Automotive News last week. “America and the world can relate to Chrissy and John.” Del Rosso himself is part of the fresh vision at Genesis, arriving in October after executive positions at Audi and Bentley.
The Super Bowl ad campaign, including two teasers released last week and a 60-second spot that will air during the game, builds on the reputation of Legend and Teigen for playfully ribbing each other. The teaser clips revolve around a symbolic going-away party for “old luxury” where the couple find themselves out of place in the stuffy gathering at an ornate mansion.
Legend, 41, is a singer and songwriter who was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in November. Teigen, 34, is a model, TV personality and cookbook author. They have two small children and live in Beverly Hills. They’re also politically progressive and vocal about it. Del Rosso said that’s fine. “We love them for who they are.”
The marketing campaign will focus on the highly anticipated arrival of the GV80, and positioning Genesis for a rapid growth phase that will transform the brand and its retailers. As sales volume rises, it should allow dealers to invest in exclusive showrooms, service areas and even stand-alone stores to separate them from Hyundai dealerships over time.
While Genesis sales doubled last year to just over 21,000, getting to the next level clearly has to come from a crossover or two, and the midsize GV80 launch in the U.S. this summer marks the beginning of a new product cycle that will bring a smaller crossover next year and an electric vehicle after that, executives said. Genesis also has hinted at a future coupe.
“The reality is our customers — America — wanted an SUV,” Del Rosso said. “The only problem we had was that we didn’t have one. For us, we’re excited to say ‘that is until now.’ ”
But just having the vehicle, which Del Rosso expects to be a major hit, isn’t enough. Additional pieces of the business plan were needed for long-term success. “Just to recap: new SUV, new brand positioning, new logo, new spokespeople, and the campaign that we’re just absolutely thrilled to kick off,” Del Rosso said.
Bob Rayburn, executive creative director for Hyundai’s Innocean ad agency, summed up the goal of the new marketing strategy this way: “We were kind of going after old luxury, and old luxury has always kept people on the other side of the velvet ropes. They’re about exclusivity, but that means excluding people. And one of the great things about John and Chrissy is they keep it real, they tell it like it is, and they let us all feel like we’re kind of in on the joke.”
In one teaser clip, Teigen and Legend stand in front of an elaborate, pyramid-like oyster bar when the entire thing comes crashing down after they each take one to eat. The party-goers turn toward them with disapproving faces, and Teigen blurts out: “That was not me. That was John Legend. Singer. Not me, some random girl. That was John Legend.”
In another, an older couple shows them a large sculpture made of ice “brought in from the Arctic.” Teigen reaches into her small handbag and says: “Well, I had these crackers brought in from my purse. So, whoop-dee-do.” The teaser ends with the tag line: “Old luxury gets a wake-up call. Tune in Sunday, Feb. 2nd.”