Hyundai Bumps Jeff Bridges from Oscar Ads

Carmaker keeps in Acad rules with revamped TV spots

When General Motors backed out as the Academy Awards’ official car partner last year, Hyundai eagerly revved up its marketing efforts to tie in with the Oscars. Yet despite ponying up the big bucks, executives had to put a muzzle on their longtime celebrity spokesman.

Jeff Bridges, nominated for lead actor in “Crazy Heart,” has been pitching U.S. consumers on the virtues of the Korean autos since 2007. But his nom created a last-minute issue for Hyundai Motor America when it was pointed out that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ rules prohibit nominees and presenters from appearing in ads that air during the show.

The automaker quickly scrambled to find a replacement for Bridges, and opted to make the seven 30-second ads it bought on ABC a little more star-studded, hiring Catherine Keener, Kim Basinger, David Duchovny, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Madsen, Mandy Patinkin and Martin Sheen to re-record the copy for the spots.

Hyundai says ads featuring Bridges will return in the week following the Oscarcast.

Hyundai is in the second year of a three-year contract as the Academy Awards’ exclusive automotive sponsor. Other advertisers also returning to this year’s show include JC Penney, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. ABC charged advertisers $1.4 million to $1.5 million for each spot, less than the $1.7 million the network charged in 2008.

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