Cracking the Pomplamoose – Hyundai case

We all watched heroic amounts of TV over the holidays.

All of us saw the Hyundai ad that features Pomplamoose, the American music indie duo.

The Hyundai-Pomplamoose campaign looped the loop. It went from odd to charming to familiar to contemptible to irritating in about 3 weeks.

We can guess what happened.  Hyundai discovered they had a hit on their hands.  The campaign was doing good things for the brand and more to the point it was moving cars.  So they sold the heck out of it.

Poor Pomplamoose!  In a daring strategy for which I applaud them, they took this campaign as an opportunity to play pilot fish, to travel with the Hyundai shark for a short while in the hopes of sharing small bits of its dinner.  And they got consumed in the process.

Now, some people will say, "Look, no band should do a deal with the devil.  Pomplamoose got what they asked for."

Maybe.  Certain kinds of indie "cred" do depend precisely on keeping one’s distance form a project of this kind.  But for everyone who isn’t a culture-never-commerce separatist, the Hyundai-Pomplamoose case is an opportunity for illumination.  I mean, Honda used "Holiday" as their sound track for the holidays, and I bet it was great for Vampire Weekend’s iTunes sales.  Refusing all truck or barter because it sometimes goes wrong is shortsighted.

The question: what’s the best way for a small cultural enterprise like a comic, a playwright, or, in this case, a band, to maximize this opportunity and minimize this risk.

First things first.

1) Did this campaign loop the loop?  (For all I know everyone hated it from beginning.  Or, everyone loved it from the beginning and they still love it.)  What we need is data.  I am no master of the methodology but I bet someone could run the numbers for the twitter and blogging world and tell us what the "shape" of adoption was.  Did it loop the loop?  What was the loop?  How fast did this happen?  Where is sentiment now?

2) Why did this campaign loop the loop?  Is it the fact that Pomplamoose created the campaign?  I guess "creative control" was one of the reasons Pomplamoose was interested in making it.  And I guess that the handmade aspect of the spots was what interested Hyundai. Now they had "artisanal advertising."  How very fashionable, how very effective.

3)  Hey, presto, the bargain worked.  Both parties were happy.  And the campaign in the early days tumbled obliging down the Kauffman continuum, from weird, to odd, to charming. Job well done.  Culture and commerce had found a way to work together.  Let’s all join arms and sing the hymn to "win-win."

4)  Then things went wrong, badly wrong.  By sometime in the second week I was hearing people (and by "people," I mean, my wife, Pam) say, "Oh, god, not them again."

I think the problem has to be repetition.  We were obliged to watch the campaign so many times, charming turned coy.  Coy got irritating.  The campaign was pushed down the Kauffman continuum and became unendurable.

5)  One take-away: Pomplamoose should have restricted how many times the ads could be played.  And now they question, assuming this is possible, what number?  Half the number of times the campaign did play?  (Would Hyundai still have been interested?)  A quarter?

6)  But this is not just a Pomplamoose problem.  When people started to react against the campaign, they were now repudiating Hyundai as well.   It was actually in the Hyundai interest to restrict circulation.  What was Hyundai’s magic number?

7) Not all ads are created equal.  Not all "content" is the same.  I think part of the problem here comes from the fact that this was an artisanal campaign and these are delicate things. They take much of their power from whimsy.  And whimsy is perishable.  It’s natural enemy is repetition.  There are several "magic numbers."

8) The cultural, creative take away: when the campaign uses meanings of this kind, care must be taken.  What makes a "hand-made" ad powerful is the very thing that makes it vulnerable.

I can hear a couple of protests:

9) I can hear people insist I’ve found a new way to state the obvious.  They will say "repetition killed this ad.  Because, duh, repetition kills every ad."  In point of fact, there are ads I love despite the fact that I have seen them hundreds of times. So there is no simple rule of thumb.  Hyundai, with or without Pomplamoose, could have made a campaign that would have stood up to this constant repetition.

10)  From the brand manager, I hear another protest altogether, one that says, "look, I took a big risk running this campaign.  The huge response was my reward.  I hit a gusher. My job was to work the gusher."  To which the answer is, "you are not actually engaged in oil discovery here.  You are drawing on and giving to a culture.  It will give you opportunities and snatch them away the moment you overplay your hand."  The Cluetrain manifesto chaps like to say that marketing is a conversation but they are wrong.  Marketing is more difficult and less durable than a conversation. It is much more like a performance on any big city stage (Carnegie or Apollo). The audience is filled with people who are very good at listening.  Some of them are very good at producing.  Hyundai Xmas performance was a little like someone producing one successful performance of Mozart or Michael, and then to everyone’s astonishment playing it over and over and over again.

11)  Repetition is one way we master culture.  It is what moves new things down the Kauffman continuum from the "too new" to the "just right."  (See my book Flock and Flow for more on the continuum.)  It is also the way, we taken novelty and stuff it into the air extracting, shrink wrapping compactor to which we consign almost everything we love.  And this is why advertising and other kinds of marketing are NOT like a performance.  Repetition is not only OK, it’s obligatory.  But we must use it in a most precisely measured way. Because once something is done, it’s entirely done.  Happily, artifacts can be managed on the continuum and they can refreshed.  We can slow the trip to the compactor.

12)  Last thoughts.  I admire the courage exercised by Hyundai and Pomplamoose in giving this campaign go.  I think it’s up to the rest of us to figure out what went wrong and why.

13)  The bigger picture, it seems to me, is this.  We have a world of advertising that is desperate for innovation and creative partnerships.  Some of the meanings that brands need cannot be produced by the conventional agency.  We have a world of cultural producers, millions of people at this point, who are very good at producing meanings, and they would be glad of the exposure and the revenue that partnership makes possible.

14)  It’s up to the likes us, people who loiter at this intersection and others like it, to figure out how to smooth the connection and build the relationship.  And by "people" in this case I mean, yes, Pam, but also Robert Barocci and Todd Powers at the Advertising Research Foundation, Geoffrey Precourt at WARC, Sam Ford at Peppercom, Ben Malbon at Google Creative Labs, Bud Caddell at Victors and Spoils.  That’s just to name a few.

15) The immediate question, to put it in the language of a Harvard Business School case study, is this:

You are Pomplamoose or Hyundai.  What would you do?

16) The larger question:

How do we solve questions of this kind?

17) The still larger question:

How do we put culture and commerce at one another’s disposal?


Levine, Rick, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger, Jake McKee. 2009. The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition. Anniversary Edition. Basic Books.

McCracken, Grant. 2006. Flock and Flow: Predicting and Managing Change in a Dynamic Marketplace. Indiana University Press.

96 thoughts on “Cracking the Pomplamoose – Hyundai case

  1. Bryan

    >>First things first. 1) Did this campaign loop the loop? (For all I know everyone hated it from beginning. Or, everyone loved it from the beginning and they still love it.) What we need is data.

    Alan Sepinwall, the TV critic for the New Jersey Star Ledger tweeted this morning: “Why is Hyundai still running the Pomplamoose Christmas-themed ads?”

    His next two tweets were:

    Different strokes… (1/2) RT @bryancastaneda: Because they wanna annoy the shit out of us.

    … for different folks. (2/2) RT @peterstork: Because Pomplamoose is AWESOME

    So yes, more research needs to be done…

    1. iggy teddybear pop

      you are likely the “target demo” — i (on the other hand) hated this campaign from the first — hate it more now – hate hyundai for inflicting it on me — hate brooklyn vegan hipster felchers for llike you (imu guessing)for liking it… would never buy a hyundai in the first place — but now might light one on fire if the oppty arises (preferrably with Pomplamoose inside said hyundai — lprobaably singing some ironic interpretation of another holiday classic)…

  2. Ray

    Thanks for another great post, Grant.

    I must be living under a rock, because I didn’t see the commercial that often. I’m still in the mode of “wow, good for Pomplamoose,” because it’s obviously tough to be an indie band these days.

    The measurement question is an interesting and complicated one, especially when a lot of viewers are time-shifting and downloading, or watching shows in commercial free venues like on DVD or Netflix on demand. So, there is also another need to actually increase, not decrease, the airplay.

    Did you see this interview dated 12/30? (unclear of when the interview took place, but it happened after Hyndai upped the media buy.)

    At least from the band’s perspective, they seem to be ok with it. I supposed it would be interested to ask them their opinion of it in six months.

    1. Jeff Smith

      Pomplamoose gathered at least 30,000 new Youtube channel subscribers since the campaign started, an quick increase of 15%. Seems like a plus for them. People are used to repetitive Christmas music during the season and it can be annoying, but combined with the video element, the Pomplamoose versions seemed refreshing by comparison. Most people are good at surfing or muting during commercials so they’re not being held hostage. Don’t know what Hyundai’s results were, but I think it was a commercial success for Pomplamoose.

      1. Grant Post author

        Jeff, very useful to have this data. I hope you’re right. But to judge from the comments on the link in Ray’s comment, it looks like there is some considerable irritation out there. Or perhaps that’s just the usual “banter.” Thx, Grant

    2. Grant Post author

      Ray, excellent link, thanks, Very good point about time shifting and how that ups the need for repetition. I hadn’t thought of that. Come to that, these ads must look unbelievably hyper at DVR pace. I wonder if people slow down to take a look. The interview is extremely revealing. Hoping to see you in the new year. Best, Grant

  3. Ben

    I loved the ads to the point where I was looking up Pomplamoose on YouTube.

    I could care less about Hyundai.

    I still enjoy the ads, and still enjoy Pomplamoose.

    Who won there?

    1. Dandapani

      I couldn’t agree with this post any more. Pomplamoose won
      on this one. How in the would could anyone
      get tired of their stuff?

      What was the auto company again? LOL!

  4. zombyboy

    The ad never got annoying to me–in fact, the Vampire Weekend song seems a better candidate for this conversation. That one wore thin awfully quickly for me and I find myself hoping I never hear it again.

    The Pomplamoose ad, on the other hand, was charming through the season.

  5. sestamibi

    I discovered them on youtube last summer before their sudden fame and work not only for Hyundai, but also for Target.

    Apparently they came up in a search for Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” (one of my all time favorites), for which they did a cover.

    Nataly Dawn is very pretty, but to be perfectly honest, has a very irritating voice. She sings pretty much in a monotone and maybe these commercials utilize her limited talent in a most efficient manner.

  6. Bob Clark

    Hi Grant
    Love your post. From a strictly advertising standpoint, I felt that the product was really secondary to the music – I don’t know much more about a Hyundai. May be the most money ever spent on launching a band. 3 cheers for a national breakthrough for Pomplamoose.

  7. generedlin

    Yes the commercials got long, but they are a hauntingly talented duo.
    The song Expiration Day is terrific. Once you listen to it, it won’t leave your head.

    SO, the deal with the devil worked. I’m a fan

  8. Jim McCarthy

    Perhaps the problem is that on a single viewing, Pomplamoose is fresh and charming, but upon repeat viewing, you realize that if it were any less than it is, it would be nothing at all.

    Not that it’s bad. It’s just almost non-existent.

    The other thing we don’t know is whether this sold a single car. It definitely sold (and perhaps oversold) Pomplamoose, but did it sell Hyundai? How would we know if it did?

    1. Grant Post author

      Jim, excellent question. According to Ray, above, they bought more media time. That’s a good sign. Eventually, we will hear in the business press. Watch this space! G.

  9. Robert

    I saw it a lot. It did get boring and repetitive. I don’t make that the fault of Pomplamoose. I hope they get MORE ads and all the checks that come with them, get rich, create scandals on reality TV and develop GNR-sized drug and alcohol dependencies. What the heck, that’s the whole POINT.
    Go, Pomplamoose!

  10. Timothy

    I didn’t find Pomplamoose as irritating as the Go To Meeting spots on Comedy channel, which once ran 3 times in a single 2 minute break for some bizzare reason

  11. Lubert Das

    I don’t want to sound like a techno-elitist, but for crying out loud, it’s 2011!

    Why are you watching commercials!

    Assuming you have a DVR, why the heck aren’t you fast-forwarding through commercials?

    I’ve seen the Hyundai/Pomplamoose commercial exactly ONCE, and that was at a relative who didn’t have a DVR, they were over 65 and retired, so they have an excuse for not having a DVR.

    Having any type of commercial aggravate you in the year 2011 is no one’s fault but your own…

  12. Jay

    >Thanks for another great post, Grant.
    Great post?

    From where I was sitting, the takeaway was that the guy just spent 5-10 minutes of my life going over what his wife said to him at breakfast… weeks ago.

    He took weeks to bring this to print and his dataset prior to comments was still *2*. Assuming he doesn’t want to risk his friendships with quirky questions (that he rightly fears will quickly become irksome,) there’s still an internet out there to rummage around in (or if Mr. McCracken is serious, to pay a computer science grad to datamine.)

  13. Mamawolf

    Hubby and I watched the commercial and were interested enough to look up Pomplamoose on You Tube. They are awesome. I LOVED the commercials and will watch them just to listen to them sing. I hope they make more commercials.

  14. The Snob

    They sold at at just the right time.

    These guys are a gimmick act par excellence and odds were very high that the hipsters would tire of them before the mainstream discovered them.

    Three signs they are a gimmick:

    – They are cute. Adorable even! Cute is the cultural equivalent of Duncan Hines buttercream frosting.

    – Video is integral to their schtick. Name two OK Go songs. “The one with the treadmills” doesn’t count.

    – They’re a cover band. QED.

      1. Undeadsinatra

        Pomplamoose are not strictly a cover band They’ve gained fame for their covers
        but they have an album’s worth of originals and the two memebers have solo
        albums of there own, all cover-free.

  15. Roscoe

    Okay. First off, before reading this post, I had never heard the name Pomplamoose. I originally liked the Hyundai commercials, was intrigued by the singers, and would say things to my wife like “hey, is that some kind of band?”

    I saw the commercials a lot. I watch a lot of college football, and probably saw them more often than most of the posters here. For me, the novelty wore off and they got a bit old. However, they never got anywhere near as annoying as most car commercials (like, for example, the guy who screams “Like a rock,” during the Chevy Truck ads).

    In terms of limiting the frequency, I think that Pomplamoose did a clever thing by making only Christmas ads. I guess they figured that the commercials would have to stop running after Christmas. Who knew?

    Anyway, as a non-ad guy, I think judging the frequency of how often to run an ad is tough, because you don’t know how much TV your target watches. I saw them a lot because I watch a lot of football. I don’t watch much else except news, so if they had only placed the ads on prime time TV they would have been lucky to catch me more than a couple of times with them.

  16. Alan

    If you had a chance to get annoyed by the Pomplamoose commercials, you watch too much TV or, as Lubert Das said, too many TV commercials.

    I actually stopped the DVR to watch the commercials a few times and then found Pomplamoose on YouTube.

    I am a new Pomplamoose fan because of the commercials. Good for them.

  17. rjclark11

    Hi Grant
    Loved your post. I too could not believe how much media weight went to this ad. Hyundai sort of missed the point of selling cars since they really didn’t show the product very much. Probably more money than was ever invested in launching a band, however. 3 cheers for Pomplamoose.

  18. Chris

    Geez, Grant, overthink much?

    I love Pompaloose and cheered when I saw they landed the commercial. Hopefully with insane amounts of cash in hand, it gives them the chance to hang around longer as a duo and make more beautiful awesome singular Pompaloose-ic.

    Every year, hundreds of impressive indie groups show promise and die like fireflies because they can’t afford to live on admiration.

    I hope they make more commercials. And it’s possible your home entertainment system has a mute button, and also some of them allow you to change channels.

  19. nuts

    wrong on your first two assumptions. i did not watch any tv and i never
    saw the hyundai ad. my tv is only hooked up for dvds. no antenna,
    no cable and no satellite dish. and all the tv ad’s in the world pass me

  20. schizuki

    Well, I found the commercials instantly irritating. Coy annoys.

    Especially “look askance” coy.

    That said, more power to them. I don’t think the idea of “sellout” is as powerful as it once was. Don’t the hipsters dig Apple? When you worship a tech corporation, you should give latitude.

    1. Grant Post author

      Schipyard, I think part of the art of managing this art was to find the balance between sweet and too sweet (aka coy). For me, the campaign keeps sliding from one side to the other. For you, obviously, it is irretrievably stuck on the coy side. I guess it depends on the tolerance of the market to whom (which?) Hyundai wants to talk. Thanks. (Totally agree on the last point)

      1. schizuki

        I should have said, “…you should give latitude, not attitude.” Because that would have sounded cool.

  21. Kasper Hauser

    I never heard of Pomplamoose before these ads and now I have decided to devote my effort, my wealth and my life to making Nataly Dawn my bride…

    How can that be a minus for them?

  22. schizuki

    OK, just checked them out on YouTube. Yep, they’re preciously quirky, all right.

    The girl comes off like a cross between Susanna Hoffs and Beck. IOW, precious and quirky.

  23. Mustapha Mond

    It’s a cute girl with only two expressions: Pleasure and Suprised Pleasure.

    What’s not to like?

  24. Peter

    I don’t get the controversy at all.

    Plenty of bands indie and otherwise have gotten paid for use of their songs in commercials. Car commercials even.

    An indie band used to be on a indie label, these guys are a You Tube band and they’re a cover band. I find both of those more salient descriptors and also reasons for making discussion of over-exposure kind of odd. Millions of hits on You Tube.

    They have skills and a good sound. I personally find them insipid, but I get why people like them I guess.

    That song totally fits in with non-threatening music on the TV. It’s hard to believe people even noticed it. It’s like that bland twee song in that Kindle ad.

    1. schizuki

      “That song totally fits in with non-threatening music on the TV. It’s hard to believe people even noticed it.”

      Ah, but its very innocuousness is what makes it so vaguely diabolical.

      Her vocals sound like children singing a nursery rhyme in a horror movie. Sweet, yet deeply disquieting.

  25. Pingback: How soon is now? » Blog Archive » The Delicate Art of Band/Brand Integration

  26. bgarrett

    We all watched…………….

    All of us saw……………

    Maybe all of Y’ALL
    I am 60 years old and have NEVER owned a television,(yes I live in the United Statesited States)
    I know I can google pamplamoose but dont care enough to find out what it is

    Theres something wrong with your commenter. I cant proof read my comment

  27. McGehee

    “The Hyundai-Pomplamoose campaign looped the loop. It went from odd to charming to familiar to contemptible to irritating in about 3 weeks.”

    In other words, it did what all TV ads do during the Christmas shopping season.

    The “Holiday, oh holiday” ads have almost turned my Honda-loving wife against the brand. I don’t think she ever even noticed the Hyundai ads.

  28. joe

    I still like the ads. She is adorable. And their ads are about a thousand times
    times better than the annoying Honda ad with Vampire Weekend “holiday oh
    holiday” which makes me want to stick knitting needles in my ears.

  29. Californio

    Come the revolution, people will be forced into re-education camps to pay for their boring deconstruction of every little irrelevant advertisement and how it alone impacts the meaning of “art”, artisitic control and other weighty topics. [ hey that’s brilliant! Quick, call my agent – I want to copyright “come the revolution…” why the product placement alone will be worth mmillions! Then I can… uh, damn it! DAmn you capitalism, luring me on the reef of my own materilistic desires!!!!

    P.S. – She should sing: “Soylient Green is people..” over and over – pretty soon we’d all be cool with that…..

  30. Peggy Coffey

    I turned the tv on exactly 3 times over the Christmas/New Years week and saw the commerical every time. I liked it, still like it, and wanted to know who the singers were.

  31. Ray

    I’m back. Looks like you stuck a nerve, or a cord, or a something. And yes, it would be great to see you in the New Year as well.

    I am not 100% what the media plan was/ is, that is if Hyundia found traction and bought more air time, or if the plan was always to do a big media blitz. Apologies for jumping the gun a bit there. But according to interview I linked to, both parties are very pleased with the results.

    Regardless, there are a few things that could use a teasing out.

    1. Pomplamoose is a polarizing band. Right off the bat, you like them or you don’t. It’s hard to apathetically shrug at them. A woman with sings in monotone and blankly stares off camera, while her musician counterpart gleefully bangs away at instruments. But they are quirky and give unique spins to familiar songs, which is a sign of a good cover.
    2. People are watching television content in very different ways now, which has been evolving for a few years. If you are a traditional television watcher, you will have seen this commercial a lot. If you are the dvd/dvr/on demand type, then obviously, you won’t have.
    3. The interview I linked to, states that they have sold 100,000 downloads, but also they don’t play a lot of live shows. I have no idea how many physical cds they have sold, but I’ll guess that it is not many. 100,000 looks impressive, however If Apple is taking a 30% cut (itunes still the market leader in paid music downloads, though I am curious what Amazon takes but I couldn’t find that figure in a quick search) on each song download. Over the past two years, each band member had earned $35,000, or $17,500/year for their downloads, which I will estimate to be most of their earnings from their music. I am certainly not surprised that they said yes to making a commercial for a large international corporation, especially when they were able to maintain creative control over it. Even if they have millions of youtube views, nevertheless to say, its really hard to convert those views into actually music.

    The interesting thing will be what will happen 6 and 11 months from now. In the June, most of American will probably shrug at a reminder of Pomplamoose, as that band they had that sort of funny car Christmas ad that they might have gotten tired of by the end of the year, along with all the other holiday ads they got tired of. A very small subset of the millions of people who saw the commercial will have downloaded and shared the band to others. Some of their hipster fans will drop them for selling out (although I want ask these fans, how many tracks did you buy?) I’m not sure which of the last two groups of people is larger. It will be interesting to see in November 2011, if we see another collaboration between the two.

    1. Grant Post author

      Ray, good numbers, I can’t guess what Hyundai paid them for this work, but if they were making less than $50k a year, they have just expanded their productive life by several years at a minimum. Not everyone wants or needs (or indeed can survive) having more time for their creative work. But for some people it’s essential. Indeed, it’s just possible that there present style, quiry and home made, is driven by the need to get them up on YouTube and to keep revenue “pouring” in. The Hyundai pay day may well fund a longer look at what they want to do, and eventually a different style.

      1. Ray

        and um, just for completeness… that last sentence was supposed to read:
        Even if they have millions of youtube views, needless to say, it’s really hard to convert those views into actually money.

        (I’m sure there are more typos, but that was the most glaring.)

      2. Undeadsinatra

        That oft-quoted 100,000 downaoads number has been around for a while for them,
        if memory serves that was *before* the release of their all-covers album
        on iTunes in the US,s o they’ve doubtlessly made more scratch from that — and then
        the post-Hyundai bump has to be nice as well.

        They’re also selling t-shirts, had their cover of Mr. sandman appear in a Toyota
        commercial, collaborated with Ben Folds for a song on his latest album
        and doing writing/production for other artists. I saw them open for the Dresden
        Dolls on NYE here in San Francisco and they gave **their lawyer** a shout-out
        fromt he stage for helping them do the things they do and stay alive while doing it.

        And come on, their new home studio is in a house they bought in Sonoma County, CA.
        They’re doing ok, me thinks.

  32. endo

    I watched a lot of college sports over the holidays and this ad drove me crazy. But then I loathe Pomplamousse under the best of circumstances. Their cover of “Single Ladies” makes me practically homicidal. I find the singer’s fey little deadpan mannerisms insipid and pretentious and so very fake. Their shtick is really lame and annoying. And watching the douchey guy run around acting silly was just stupid.

    The ad was no doubt successful for the band but I can’t imagine it did much for Hyumdai. There was really no information or sale pitch given that I could detect. So I can’t imagine it being successful.

    Vampire Weekend’s “Holiday” commercials were overplayed too but at least that band has talent and the song is a good one.

  33. Jim Cagney

    The ad campaign became so annoying, that after actually liking Hyundai, I can’t now picture myself buying one. Sorry, but if that’s what I’m paired with, I don’t need it.

    I felt like Mae Clarke!

  34. SamIam

    Some perspective: I’ve seen the commercial and it got my attention because the singing was pleasant/cutesy during Christmas and the girl cute. Prior to reading this post I never heard of Pomplamoose. I got here via Instapundit. I imagine most people never heard of Pomplamoose either, and still haven’t despite this supposed over-exposure controversy.

  35. tunelaw


    I am Pomplamoose’s sole representative who negotiated their agreement with Hyundai, and I was involved with every step.

    I must admit that this is by far one of the most thoughtful posts I have seen about these ads and the band; likewise, your readers’ comments are equally sophisticated and interesting to read.

    There have been many (and I mean MANY) articles and posts about these commercials and the band. The overwhelming majority have been positive, both in terms of their praise for Pomplamoose as well as for the positive impact on Hyundai’s image. The negative responses have predominately involved the frequency and ubiquitousness (sp?) of these ads, with the other complaints mostly involving how the band has “sold out”. The latter complainants are usually internet trolls, haters who would have never been fans in the first place, or just plain ignorant about modern norms.

    To provide some insight from the band’s perspective:

    1) The record business as we know it is DEAD. As one of your commenters alluded, it is impossible to be a functioning band through SOLELY recorded music sales. This is not support for why bands SHOULD branch out to achieve success, but reason why they MUST do so in order to have a legitimate career; Period. If you want to become famous and you haven’t been on American Idol (or have synch placements on Grey’s Anatomy), you MUST be innovative with how you will reach your fans. Even before Hyundai came along Pomplamoose significantly accomplished this through their YouTube presence.

    2) Record labels are now flailing to accomplish for their artists precisely what we were able to accomplish for Pomplamoose on our own through these ads: wide exposure, curiosity, goodwill, and network-building (proof: the hundreds of thousands of people who Googled “Hyundai commercial song” or “Hyundai Commercial band” etc. . ., and the tens of thousands of additional subscribers to the band’s YouTube channel). These ads were IN FACT 100% creatively controlled by the band – a testament not just to their solid artistic integrity, but to Hyundai’s appreciation of the band’s (for lack of a better word), coolness. Hyundai made a SMART decision by riding on Pomplamoose’s pre-established cool-factor. It was inarguably win-win.

    3) We are now fielding inquiries from the conventional music-business apparatus (read: major labels) on an almost daily basis about this band (the discussion about of the major-label system’s obsolescence is outside the scope of this post). Were it not for the band’s independent accomplishments, I would see this level of attention in-and-of-itself as being indication of intermediary success. If you were to poll record-company heads, A&R Execs, creative directors (to the extent they still exist), talent managers, and anyone else who makes a living from the career longevity of artists and bands, they would 100% applaud the Hyundai-Pomplamoose association (and probably the ads). For some more objective insight, check out the highly influential blog by Bob Lefsetz on Hyundai/Pomplamoose on (

    4) Yes the band was paid well, and anyone who believes this is incongruous with rock and roll is being ignorant; The Clash, my favorite band of all time, and the last band to “sell out” approved of tasteful uses of their masters in ads. Pomplamoose is nothing like that “free credit report dot com” clown-act band. Likewise, they are using the funds to record their next full-length album on their own terms without some record-company A&R dweeb (who has about as much career longevity and job security as . . . err. . . an indy band)’s intermeddling, and to put a touring band together to reach their fans in person. In short, they have the creative and financial freedom that ALL artists would covet. I actually think their biggest “you sold out” detractors are those annoying “hipsters” that I would be the first to want to punch out.

    5) We could not have dictated the frequency of these ads when negotiating with Hyundai (nor would we have been as amateurish and deluded enough to think we could have– that would have been just silly). Our best option in controlling how these ads affect the band was to control the substance of the ads, which we accomplished fully by having 100% creative control. These ads were Pomplamoose through and through.

    So. . . as far as Pomplamoose is concerned, we have accomplished great GREAT things through these ads. This is the new paradigm for being successful in music; this band is fortunate to have accomplished this success and recognition on its own, and the Hyundai exposure is a natural, welcomed, and perfectly-fitting and logical next step.

    I’m not going to apologize for being biased. People can hate on their music, her voice, etc. . . , but the net-gain for the band’s is overwhelming on EVERY level.

    Thank you for reading and ‘nuff respect (again) for this great article.

  36. Leahcim

    Geez…. you watch way too much television. I have only seen the ads (not each) about 4 times.

    Is this something that really needs dissection and discussion?

  37. MrJest

    Ummm… what’s a “Pomplamoose”?

    I must admit, I don’t watch much commercial TV these days, although I do
    use the 50″+ TV for movies and such quite frequently. But I haven’t seen
    a single one of these commercials.

    Probably thankfully. 🙂

  38. Dar

    I can’t believe nobody else has commented about how this duo looked like a modern version of “the Captain and Tennille” on quaaludes. I had no idea who they were for several weeks and was mildly annoyed with the ads, but eventually I heard who they were, looked up their YouTube channel, and now I “get it” and enjoy their schtick–although it is just a schtick.

  39. Jack Conte

    Hey folks, Jack from Pomplamoose here. I thought I’d throw in my two
    cents. Someone hit the nail on the head earlier – we’re a polarizing band.
    We have a ton of folks that totally dig what we do, and we have a ton of
    folks like the above commenters who would rather die that have to sit
    through another one of our songs. As an artist, those people don’t
    concern me – but Grant brings up an interesting point. Are we
    alienating the people who DO like us by overplaying? This is an
    important point, and you can be sure that we will be thinking about it
    when our next contract comes up.

    We had no idea that Hyundai would be
    running the ads this much, but so far, I think it’s been rather beneficial
    for us. Besides the extra royalties, we’ve noticed an increase in sales
    and in YouTube subscribers. So from a statistics standpoint, it’s been
    great. But Grant is right – that doesn’t mean that existing fans haven’t
    gotten a little ticked in the process.

    The other important point to bring up here is that, in my belief, corporate
    America is going to play a very important role in the future of music. As
    music distribution companies begin to switch over to the subscription based
    all-you-can-eat models and shy away from a la carte downloads, the business
    models for artists will change drastically, from music sales to licensing.
    when that happens, the notion of “selling out” by licensing music will
    finally be nonexistent. artists have been selling their art since art
    existed. And some of the worlds greatest art has come from licensing and
    commissions! For us, selling out would be promoting a company that we
    dislike, just for the immediate monetary reward. What people don’t realize
    is that we are incredibly selective about our licensing. We’ve had numerous
    offers (and quite lucrative ones, too) that we’ve
    turned down, because they were from companies with questionable values.
    Refusing these gigs was a NO BRAINER for us, despite the tremendous
    monetary gain and exposure. But no one ever sees that! No one sees the
    gigs we turn down, only the gigs we take.

    Anyway, Grant, well done! A very interesting article with great points.
    I’d love to talk with you about it further, although it doesn’t sound
    like you’d be into that! I’m around if you want to jet me an
    email. Maybe we can setup a skype chat or something. Adios.


    1. Melodia

      You never even have to think that you would alienate the fans ~ A fan being someone thrilled for the commercial spots and every success you and Natly enjoy, as I am. As adequately covered here, this piece illustrates more about Grant than Pomplamoose.
      The fans are thrilled and have every confidence in your integrity and intentions, and what has you going in the first place, your talent. (I won’t even make any off the cuff comments about your hair, trusting you there, too! ; )
      And good as it might be to engage in this thread for clarification, let’s all get cracking back at what we ought to be doing. Grant has diverted us long enough with his long-winded suppositions. I’m checking for great articles and new press breaks for Pomplamoose, and a new vid letting us know about the New Year’s Eve show! and the new programming, too ~

      Happy New Year!

  40. HoweeCarr

    You could always change the channel. Or turn off the television.

    Or perhaps it’s envy that Pomplamoose (?) earned more this holiday season than you.

    Motherofgawd guy, get a life.

  41. Koblog

    Answer to question 1): No

    Thus the remaining 16 pretentious questions are meaningless.

    But, as you scored a hit on Instapundit, this makes you, not a pilot fish, but a remora…sucking life from Pomplamoose for your own 2 minutes of unearned fame.


  42. Bud Caddell


    One thing is certain – you tapped your own gusher here.

    I felt very much the same as you did (or your wife did) when I saw the ad for the 15th time.


    Rule no. 1 for your big brand ad blitz: Repetition without variation is a recipe for annoyance.

  43. Pingback: PSFK » Grant McCracken: Cracking The Pomplamoose – Hyundai Case

  44. Angel Zuniga Martinez

    Part of the problem is probably that we’ve become a culture that over
    contemplates everything to the point of death and there is way too much
    “noise” and stimuli. We do ourselves good to turn off the TV, internet,
    phones, etc and walk out into the outdoors and meditate from time to

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