Allow us to set the stage. The year was 2009, the month was February. The U.S. economy, which for months had been showing signs of springing a leak, was now fully flooding into five forward compartments. Banks were dead or dying, the housing industry had ground to a halt and without massive influxes of cold, hard government cash, two thirds of the Big Three would have gone belly up.
Enter Hyundai. Amidst all the chaos and turmoil, the Korean automaker airs (during the Superbowl, mind you) a very simple commercial stating the following: "Now finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if you lose your income in the next year, you can return it free with no impact on your credit." This program, what Hyundai calls its Assurance Program, was just one of the many factors that led the editors of Advertising Age to name the resurgent Korean automaker's ad men as their Marketer of the Year – an award that isn't just confined to the automotive sector.
Aside from just appealing to "broken dreams," (i.e. bad credit, job loss) Hyundai also pushed the then new luxury Genesis Sedan to people with "intact dreams." Moreover, while the Superbowl tends to skew male, Hyundai made sure to scoop up all of bankrupt General Motors' ad spots during the Oscars, an event that skews heavily female. Long story short, Hyundai's market share is up during the first ten months of 2009 from 3.1% to 4.3% and in September, when the rest of the industry experienced a 22% sales drop, Hyundai's sales went up 27%. Tip of the hat to Vumiko!