Hyundai needed a communications campaign to position their iX35 ‘soft-roader’ SUV as tough and capable. The strategy was summarised as “the ix35 is built tough, so it will make you feel absolutely confident no matter what the conditions”.

Their communications agency, Innocean, developed three creative pathways to deliver the strategy. a&b was a commissioned to explore each, to determine which pathway was most likely to deliver the strategy in an engaging, relevant, entertaining manner.

We utilised a qualitative research design featuring a series of focus group discussions with the target audience. We wanted to explore the social effects of the advertising – its likelihood of being material that would be discussed ‘around the water cooler’.

The tested materials

We prefer to use a combination of narrative and key frame visuals for script testing. The narrative allows those with auditory orientation to engage and those with visual orientation lean on the rough visuals for comprehension. In pragmatic terms, these stimuli are far less costly than the development of an animatic and just as effective.

The findings

Of the three ideas explored, one entitled the ‘Road Less Travelled’ was a clear winner

  • Communication: Delivered strategy well
  • Mood & Tone: Appealing, inviting, exciting
  • Relevant: Conveys adventure, infers proof of the daily grind
  • Cut through potential: Interesting, bold, unique

We found that the fantasy was a very important contributor to originality, cut through and the credible communication of the strategy. We recommended that without the fantasy, it could become too literally 4WD territory (not credible for ix35 and not a need for C-SUV buyers)

  • The role of the old man (narrator): An effective and popular delivery mechanism for the fantasy. Using Jungian Archetypal analysis we found him firmly the ‘Sage’ archetype – wise, ancient, permanent, reassuring (an implicit reflection of the ‘tough’ values sought)
  • How to end? We recommended that taking the tough road should remain the fantasy – not the reality
    • If they take the tough road, will heavily reduce relevance as would position ix35 as an off-road 4WD
    • It is the potential of the ix35 that delivers to the insight

The effect


The TV concept was produced and launched and helped ix35 retain segment leadership despite heavy competitive pressure and several new model launches.

The TVC was also tracked via a&b’s PABIS continuous automotive research platform and we found it to be one of the most successful ads ever monitored, in terms of accuracy in message take-out (firmly on strategy) and accuracy of branding recall.

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