They construct a lot of weird bets in Vegas. So three years ago, what would have been the odds of Hyundai standing near the pinnacle of the US automotive world and Jeff Bridges bidding to repeat as Best Actor at the Oscars?
But unlikely as it might have seemed then, that is the case today. And the upstart Korean automotive brand and the craggy veteran actor have forged a partnership that is benefiting from the success each has achieved. At points during Sunday’s telecast, the success of one will have to give way to the success of the other.
Bridges has been the voice of Hyundai in TV commercials that have helped fuel the brand’s rise in America. But he's a Best Actor nominee (again), which means he can't be used in the Hyundai ads that will be aired around that segment of the awards — again.
It's all to do with Academy rules. Accordingly, some of Hyundai's Oscars spots will feature new voice overs by Jason Bateman. Hyundai's used to this, as last year it faced the same dilemma.
Bridges’s role as Otis “Bad” Blake in Crazy Heart won him the Best Actor award in 2010, just as Hyundai was in its second year as exclusive national automotive-advertising sponsor of the awards. And this year, Bridges is being sized up for the same award for his reprise of John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn role in the Coen Brothers' update of True Grit.
Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik isn’t too troubled by the necessity to work around the rules for Bridges. For one thing, Bateman is no slouch; he will also be a presenter at the Oscars and was lauded for his role in last year’s The Switch, co-starring Jennifer Aniston, even though the movie itself was broadly panned. If his voice is recognized or talked about in the Hyundai ads, that’s all to the good for Hyundai’s buzz.
Even more to the point, Krafcik has insisted in buying commercial time to air Hyundai’s ads during the juiciest portions of the Oscars, so there’s no getting around the rule that restricts Bridges’ participation in those ads.
“With seven spots overall during the telecast, there’s almost no way to avoid” such a conflict, he told brandchannel. “And that (Best Actor) is one of the sections of the show that is the most-watched, along with Best Actress and Best Picture awards.”
Will both Hyundai and Bridges extend their recent winning streaks? That question provides one compelling reason to watch Sunday’s telecast.
Hyundai's commercials slated for the Oscars telecast include four with new voiceovers by Jason Bateman that can air near Bridges's Best Actor category:
2011 Elantra "Deprogramming" (Bridges v/o):
2011 Elantra "Childhood" (Bridges):
2011 Equus "Comfy Home" (Bridges)
2011 Sonata Family (Bridges):
2011 Sonata "Good Things Come in Threes" (Bridges):
2011 Sonata "Anachronistic City" (new Bateman v/o;):
2011 Equus "iPad Owners Manual" (Bateman)
2011 Elantra "To the Drawing Board" (Bateman):
2011 Genesis "Perception is Reality" (Bateman):