Hyundai’s newest marketing director: an action figure

Hyundai Motor America’s new Sonata came out at the end of summer, but the automaker hasn’t put the brakes on its promotion just yet.

The brand has launched a Vine series to showcase features of the 2015 Sonata such as its new sunroof and powerful headlights. The campaign centers around “Hyundai Hank,” an action figure modeled on the company’s director of marketing communications, David Matathia.

“We wanted to do more than just the owner’s manual to the car and wanted to have fun with it,” Matathia told Digiday. “We wanted someone generic yet someone that everyone could relate to, and before I knew it, I was an action figure.”

Created and executed by agency Innocean’s in-house social team, seven Vines were shot old-school stop-motion-style. But it wasn’t all technology; Innocean also had to get crafty and use materials like putty, thread and wooden dowels to help support, suspend and animate the character in more unusual or exaggerated poses.

One of them shows Hank sitting on a beach mat, with a book in his hands, and then focuses in on the new Sonata’s headlights, while another shows him climbing up the car’s sun roof using a rope. Hyundai even came out with a Halloween-themed Vine to coincide with the holiday. The six-second clips have been looped over 5,000 times since their roll out on Wednesday.

“We wanted to take advantage of Vine as a medium, and we were deliberate in not wanting to be a mere corporate voice,” said Greg Braun, the executive creative director at Innocean, told Digiday. “These were conceptualized for a younger, quirkier audience.”

Hyundai is leveraging its other social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to share the adventures of “Hyundai Hank.” Other promotions for the car have included the “3000 mile test drive,” which highlights how the Sonata has impacted the personal journeys of some of its owners as well as “Sonata spotted,” which is a game powered by Google that makes users guess where the 2015 Sonata is located throughout the U.S.

“Hank is a bit of a tour guide, and the goal is to use him beyond this campaign,” Matathia said. “We want to try to use him in future efforts, depending on how the engagement levels go.”

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