Ubaid Zargar

Hyundai’s road to IPO: key advertising timestamps that shaped the brand’s Indian legacy

Shah Rukh Khan, Tall-boy Santro, and the path to $3 billion initial public offering. Here’s Hyundai’s India recap.

Hyundai Motor India (HMIL), the country's second-largest car maker, is gearing up for a splashy debut on the stock market. On June 15, they filed a draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)  for a whopping Rs 25,000 crore ($3 billion) initial public offering (IPO). Buckle up, because this is set to be India’s largest public issue ever.

The blockbuster IPO will be an offer-for-sale (OFS) of up to 142.2 million shares, representing a 17.5% stake, by the South Korean parent company Hyundai Motor Co.

Let's rewind to 1996. When Hyundai Motor Company first rolled into the Indian automobile market, it was practically a no-name brand in the country. Back then, the auto scene was dominated by just five major players: Maruti, Hindustan, Premier, Tata, and Mahindra.

Fast forward to today, and Hyundai has worked its magic, carving out a significant slice of the pie. As of fiscal year FY24, Hyundai holds a solid 14.5% market share in the passenger car segment. Not too shabby compared to Maruti Suzuki's towering 41.7% and Tata Motors' respectable 13.8%, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Since its establishment, Hyundai India has charted an impressive course in the automotive industry, fuelled significantly by its innovative advertising and marketing campaigns.

Hyundai currently operates in a diverse range of categories in the Indian automotive market. Starting with small cars, the brand has expanded to include compact sedans, premium hatchbacks, and mid-size sedans. Additionally, Hyundai has made significant inroads into the SUV segment, catering to both compact and larger SUV preferences.

Insights from Industry Experts

Sai Ganesh, a brand consultant and former CMO at Dunzo, comments on Hyundai's journey, saying, "Hyundai is a great example of a success story of a Korean brand in India. When they entered the market, nobody knew them, and Santro's design was unusual for India. The tall-boy vehicle succeeded largely due to innovative marketing, especially with Shah Rukh Khan in the 90s. The brand effectively built awareness using SRK, which was key to their momentum. The enduring 28-year association with SRK is a testament to successful marketing, demonstrating consistency in a time when brands frequently switch ambassadors."

KV Sridhar (Pops), founder and chief creative officer of Hypercollective, adds, "Hyundai arrived when Korean brands were seeking a foothold in India. Competing with Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai focused on comfort and affordability. The Santro targeted the middle class, expanding the car market with affordable options. Hyundai's long-term association with Shah Rukh Khan has been beneficial. However, the automotive category isn't known for great advertisements, as it's typically dominated by product specifications."

The brand's ability to resonate with Indian consumers has been a cornerstone of its success, and its marketing has played a crucial role in cementing its position as a leading car manufacturer in the country. 

Here is a quick recap:

1998: The birth of Santro and the 'Tall Boy' revolution

Hyundai's journey in India began with the launch of the Santro in 1998, a car that would redefine the small car segment. The advertising campaign for the Santro featured Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, a move that instantly connected the brand with millions of Indian fans. The 'Tall Boy' design was highlighted, emphasising spaciousness and comfort, which struck a chord with Indian families. This campaign was pivotal in making the Santro a household name and marked the beginning of a long-standing association with Shah Rukh Khan.

1999: Hyundai launches Accent

Following the success of the Santro, Hyundai introduced the Accent in October of 1999, the year the automotive company had already become the second largest auto-manufacturer in the country. Accent’s ‘Sensible by design’ campaign highlighted the sedan's advanced features and superior performance.

In 2000, both Santro & Accent bagged top honours in JD Power Asia Pacific 2001 “IQS” and “APEAL” studies.

2001: In comes Sonata

In July of 2001, Hyundai brought the first generation model of Sonata to India and it was an instant talk of the town. The car was high-end, in its performance and design. The luxury car has seen many new renditions since its original launch, and has its own little history of ads.

2004: Embracing modernity with the Hyundai Getz

In 2004, Hyundai introduced the Getz, a premium hatchback aimed at the urban youth. The advertising campaign showcased the car's stylish design and advanced features, catering to the aspirations of young professionals. The tagline Getz You emphasised the car's utility, and the commercials were designed to appeal to a more modern demographic.

In December 2004, Getz was awarded “Car of the Year” by Standard Motoring Magazine.

2006: Feeling the Verna

Hyundai launched the Verna in September 2006, with a campaign titled Verna, feel it. This campaign focused on the car’s powerful engine and advanced features, positioning it as a leader in the mid-size sedan segment. The advertisements highlighted the car's performance put in contrast to race horses.

2007: The i10 and the accolades

With the launch of the i10 in 2007, Hyundai continued to innovate in the small car segment. The ‘Catch the i’ campaign featured the brand’s ambassador SRK. In December 2007, i10 was awarded ‘Car of the Year 2008’ by Business Standard Motoring Magazine.

2008: The i20 and the premium compact segment

Hyundai stepped into the premium compact segment with the i20 in December 2008. The premium hatch was launched just a month after the brand reached the milestone of manufacturing the fastest 2 million cars in India. In February 2009, the car was adjudged ‘Family Hatch of the Year’ by TopGear. The campaign to build awareness for the new car, titled The Uber Cool, was all about glamour and performance of the new car. 

2014: Xcent, the real family sedan

Hyundai introduced the Xcent in 2014, aimed at the compact sedan segment. The Real Family Sedan campaign for the car saw superstar Shah Rukh Khan show some ‘xtra’ features of the car.

2015: The Creta and the 'Perfect SUV' campaign

Hyundai's launch of the Creta in July 2015, marked its entry into the compact SUV market. The Perfect SUV campaign highlighted the car's powerful performance, advanced features, and robust design. The advertisements positioned the Creta as the ideal vehicle for both urban and off-road adventures, appealing to a wide range of SUV enthusiasts.

Creta went on to become ‘SUV of the year’, winning awards at NDTV, CNBC Overdrive, Evo Off Roads, etc. 

2019: The Venue and the digital transformation

The launch of the Hyundai Venue in 2019 marked the brand's foray into the connected SUV segment. The Connected to Excitement campaign was innovative, leveraging digital and social media platforms extensively. The Venue was marketed as India's first fully-connected SUV. This campaign was notable for its emphasis on digital representation.

In December 2019, Hyundai VENUE won the Prestigious ‘Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY) 2020’ Award.

2021: The Alcazar and Family-Centric Marketing

Hyundai's introduction of the Alcazar in 2021 targeted the growing demand for family-oriented SUVs. The marketing campaign highlighted the car's spaciousness, premium features, and versatility.

2023: Hyundai’s Exter

In 2023, the brand unveiled its micro-SUV offering in Exter. The campaign that accompanied the car, ‘Think outside. Think Exter.’, featured Indian cricketer Hardik Pandya.

In 2023, the brand also roped in Deepika Padukone as its brand ambassador alongside SRK.

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