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Give people a meaningful reason to talk

By now you've probably heard that Hyundai is offering people in financial trouble the right to return their car (details).

Which is the point. 

Every other auto manufacturer is responding to the economic situation with cheesy me-too sales. There's no reason to talk about a car sale.

But Hyundai figured out something that was different, original, and worth talking about.

(P.S. Another smart element of this promotion: Anyone in financial trouble is likely to default on car payments anyway. Hyundai turned the horrible threat of the repo man into a positive customer service moment. And they get their car back.)

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  1. gianandrea facchini February 16, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    Why not leave the cars to the owner and change the way of payment (eg: 6 months without any payment)? What are they doing with the parking lot full of returned cars?

  2. Russ Somers February 16, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Great observation. It’s more meaningful given that you’ve been critical of recession-oriented marketing messages from many companies.
    Highlights that there’s a big difference between “I feel your pain, times are tough” messaging and a willingness to put some skin in the game on Hyundai’s part. Most recession messages/promos are just talk, this one isn’t.

  3. Susan Martin February 16, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    It got my attention, and I’m usually great at tuning out commercials. It’ll be interesting to see if and how it actually works.

  4. Kelly February 16, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    Genius! I love this idea. I wouldn’t mention Hyundai otherwise, and this is a great idea to generate buzz. I don’t think this is going to make a bunch of people return their car @gianandrea, you’re missing the point. It just gives people a comfort knowing they COULD and gets people talking about you in a positive way.

  5. gianandrea facchini February 17, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    @Kelly: I think I get the point. My doubt is about creating a great activity which may not turn in a damage to the company. If they had, say, 100k people giving their cars back, I’m afraid that would be an impacting issue. Allowing people to retain the cars and diluting payment without any surcharge may generate the same financial problem but the cars would be around with a sticker: I pay the car when I’m back in business.

  6. steve February 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    I also noticed it. It has been the most meaningful and to the point recession promotion i’ve seen! It targets our fears, and answers them: “what if i loose my job?! i can return it? thats amazing”
    peace of mind in uncertain times.
    @giana: of course they can’t afford to have 100k returned. but chances are that they won’t. the idea is to get people to loosen their wallet grip and have some faith. the same thing the line: “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” is meant to do.
    As for as inspiring me to buy? I’m not in the market to buy, but if i was, this would have gotten me to the sales floor for more info.

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