What’s on the cards? Multi-cultural marketing

Published: May 05, 2023

min read

One of the hot trends on TikTok is the “pick your card” where one person shows multiple cards of pieces of paper which has different destinations or activities for another to choose from without knowing what’s in the cards!

So what’s that got to do with anything?

Hyundai Motor America, the American wing of the Korean car company has used this popular TikTok trend to woo Black consumers in a couple of spots that star real-life couple and actors Alonzo B. Slater and Mea Wilkerson. This kind of video format is very popular with young couples as a way to plan their dates.

So both spots start with Slater asking his wife to choose between two of Hyundai’s electric vehicle models. Then the story progresses with her picking different date activities for them, depending on which spot the audience is watching. In one they go shopping and in the other, they go to an art gallery.

The two channels on which these spots will run are YouTube and TikTok – where audiences can “pick a card” too by choosing which date they would like to go on, between two cards labeled “IONIQ 5” and “IONIQ 6.”

This campaign is in continuation of the automaker’s “Okay Hyundai” brand platform that Hyundai created along with Culture Brands, its African American marketing agency of record, in 2021. Every spot in this ongoing campaign has someone say the titular phrase, “Okay, Hyundai.” (this has won several awards, incidentally and Hyundai is keen to keep the momentum going).

In the African American community, placing ‘Okay’ before something is the quintessential way things worth noticing are acknowledged.

Eunique Jones Gibson,

CEO and chief creative officer of Culture Brands

The use of this phrase is just one of many cultural references and nuances incorporated in Hyundai’s creative messaging, that has been crafted with the goal of resonating with Black consumers. Several of Hyundai’s spots aimed at Black buyers have featured relationships and connections important to the African American community.

Apart from the ads appearing on social media, they will be aired on linear TV and other digital channels. Hyundai will also partner with some of its brand ambassadors to do a “pick a card” challenge and have them share their experiences on social media.

With the newer generations of buyers, what a brand stands for matters, and we want them to see themselves in our work and identify with it.

Erik Thomas,

Hyundai’s director of experiential marketing

Multi-cultural marketing for brands

When a brand chooses to target a certain group of people, it is very important that they connect with them. And this must be done on their own terms – not on the brand’s terms – and in ways that are highly relevant to that particular community.

Hyundai has done a great job of this in this campaign. They have used content creators of color to star in their spots – celebrities with a real-life love story that their fan-base follows and adores. Such an audience just loves to see snippets of the couple interacting and it is a great strategic move on the part of Hyundai and its marketing agency to present just that.

Taking things a step further is the use of culturally relevant language - In the African American community, placing ‘Okay’ before something is the way they acknowledge something that they like and approve of. This is just one of many cultural references and nuances incorporated in Hyundai’s creative messaging.

The present generation is committed to the environment and to saving the planet. So selling them an EV is the right way to go by way of strategic product placement. The messaging of these spots where the EVs seamlessly fit into a modern-day love story in a sustainable and adaptable way, which is then very subtly yet deftly communicated as an investment as long-standing as true love, is top class!

The world is getting increasingly multi-cultural and for brands to succeed, it is imperative to embrace DEI – diversity, equality and inclusion – and multiculturalism.

This effort must start with its own marketing team – only when a brand has a multi-cultural mindset can it understand an audience that is multi-cultural without being condescending (which can be fatal) or frivolous.

It is very important to speak an authentic message that will resonate with various ethnic groups. Using the same tone of voice to speak to various audiences won’t cut it.

So it is important for brands to really do its homework before planning any campaign or marketing strategy. Invest time and energy into research.

Finally, in a surge of enthusiasm and a strong urge to be multi-cultural, don’t go overboard – you will only end up looking like a complete fake that over-compensates. Be authentic and real – that is the only way that works!


Sarah Johnson

Sarah is an analytical marketing expert with a passion for data-driven insights. She has a keen eye for detail and a talent for turning complex information into actionable strategies. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, travel, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


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