Why the Brandblack x Salehe Bembury Collaboration Is Featured in Hyundai’s Latest 2024 Santa Fe Ad

The worlds of automobiles and sneakers have long been intertwined, most often through design. However, with its latest ad, Hyundai has found its own way to carry on this pairing.

In the car company’s latest advertisement, titled “The Drop,” Hyundai — in collaboration with Black-owned marketing agency Culture Brands — paired the hunt for a coveted sneaker with the elation of driving its 2024 Santa Fe.

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At the start of the ad, the protagonist is shown shopping online, attempting to buy a pair of sneakers. His attempt, however, was unsuccessful — a pain most diehard sneakerheads know all too well.

Although he did not secure a pair, he was not distraught because another recent purchase — his 2024 Santa Fe — brought him a similar joy. He was even shown driving past a sneaker store with a line of people outside hoping to buy the sneakers but were clearly more interested in his Santa Fe.

“The story of a sneaker drop resonates in a car advertisement because both industries share significant cultural relevance and consumer passion,” Britt Wright, director at Culture Brands, told FN. “Sneaker culture, much like automotive culture, represents individual expression, innovation and aspiration. In both worlds, enthusiasts eagerly anticipate new releases, forming communities around shared interests and values.”

He continued, “By weaving the narrative of a sneaker drop into our car advertisement, we tap into this shared passion and create a compelling connection between two seemingly disparate worlds. The parallels lie in the attention to detail, craftsmanship and the emotional attachment that consumers develop for both sneakers and cars.”

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe was the centerpiece of “The Drop,” however it was not the lone star of the ad. For the spot, Culture Brands tapped Brandblack, a Black-owned brand founded by design veteran David Raysse, to provide the sneaker the protagonist was eager to purchase.

“It’s not often you see a Black-owned sneaker company, and it’s always our goal to amplify Black-owned businesses that align with our campaign goals and creative,” Wright explained. “As a Black-owned brand, Brandblack represents authenticity, creativity and cultural resonance, making it the perfect partner for our endeavor. Our shared commitment to celebrating Black excellence and storytelling forged a natural bond, leading to a successful collaboration.”

Hyundai Motor America director of experiential marketing Erik Thomas added, “Our partnership with BrandBlack, a trailblazing Black-owned brand, was a strategic move to infuse the campaign with authenticity and resonance. Collaborating with a leader in sneaker culture not only personalizes our message but also underscores our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. It’s more than just a collaboration. It’s a statement of solidarity and a testament to our dedication to authentically representing the communities we serve.”

The specific sneaker in the ad was also carefully chosen. The style is a collaboration between Brandblack and designer Salehe Bembury, a bold multicolored look with Vibram outsoles underfoot.

“This commercial is driven by people who love design. They are lining up to get their hands on the next great sneaker design while driving the next great automotive design,” Raysse told FN. “When I choose to do a collaboration, it’s always about elevating footwear design. Who better exemplifies design excellence than Salehe Bembury? He is always pushing the boundaries of what can be done and creating must-have designs that make people line up whenever he announces something new.”

Aside from the actors in the ad and Raysse, Culture Brands tapped Black talent to execute each aspect of “The Drop.” For instance, it was produced by Fela, a Black-owned production company, and was directed by Julien Christian Lutz, better known as Director X, the visionary behind music videos for Jay-Z, Drake, DJ Khaled and countless others. What’s more, the ad was set to the soundtrack of “Big Fish” by Vince Staples.

Hyundai will showcase “The Drop” through various channels, which includes 15- and 30-second versions for broadcast and digital channels.

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at peter.verry@footwearnews.com.

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