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Hyundai takes on Tesla

  • News
  • September 11, 2018
Hyundai takes on Tesla

While he has been busy starting controversies and stroking his billions, a Tesla competitor has taken aim at Elon Musk.

When Hyundai announced its new electrified version of the Kona EV earlier this year, it wasn’t long before it launched a campaign issuing a strong statement to Tesla. The ‘Your turn, Elon’ billboards have been popping up all around the world, suggesting the latest electrical vehicle is the one to beat. It was first seen at the exit of Geneva's international terminal ahead of the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show where the car was announced. 

The campaign has recently come to New Zealand where it has been spotted in Auckland and Wellington. While car companies rarely call out competing executives by name, Hyundai's approach does mirror the outspoken nature Musk has become known for. 

Musk’s Tesla has been a world-leader in the electric vehicle market, with the company’s Model S being the world’s best-selling plug-in electric car in recent years. While Hyundai has been producing electric vehicles for a number of years, this is the first time it has launched an attack marketing campaign against a rival.  

The company describes the latest model as a ‘ground-breaking newcomer’ that could revolutionise the electric vehicle market in New Zealand. Global demand has already been above forecasted numbers, and pre-orders are open in New Zealand.

With Tesla’s prices sitting comfortably in the hundreds of thousands and Hyundai’s Kona coming in below $80,000, the new vehicle certainly does open up the market to more consumers. One Twitter user even suggested Hyundai should be taking aim at manufacturers that haven’t already diversified into electric vehicles rather than name-dropping Musk.


While Musk has yet to respond to StopPress’s approach for comment, some online commentators are suggesting Hyundai’s move might not be as controversial as they think it is. From day one, Musk has said Tesla’s mission is to put pressure on other car manufacturers to produce their own electric vehicles.

In fact, Tesla actually made all of its technology open source in 2014, so other car companies could use the tech to build their own models.

The campaign also calls into question the use of absolutes with the claim the Kona Electic SUV will soon be New Zealand's number one electric vehicle. Although not a new tactic used in advertising, it's murky water, as brands need to be socially responsible to customers by providing specific evidence when making claims.

The requirement came to light in 2016 when the ASA found an ad claiming the SsangYong Korando SUV as “New Zealand’s best value mid-size SUV”, was likely to mislead customers and had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to customers. 

For SsangYong to make the claim it was “New Zealand’s best value mid-size SUV”, it would need to provide specific evidence, such as information about all the other mid-size SUVs available in New Zealand, and how the Ssangyong Korando was relatively better value overall.

Hyundai isn’t the first company to directly challenge a competitor in recent months. In August, Burger King retaliated to a McDonald’s billboard in Auckland that read “Long live the king” with a Big Mac positioned in the middle of it.

Burger King hit back with a “Size matters” billboard, with the Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper burger side-by-side.

In the UK, Brewdog launched its own version of attack advertising on rival brewers by releasing a campaign comparing different competitors’ Ratebeer results. The campaign directly criticises Budweiser, Carling, Fosters and Stella – four of the biggest beer brands in the UK. Created by agency Isobel, the minimal campaign is set to run across outdoor, press and social in the UK.



This story originally appeared on StopPress.

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