When the Flaming Lips formed nearly 30 years ago, the notion that the group would be performing a song called “Sun Blows Up Today” in a Super Bowl ad would have been as surreal as some of their lyrics. But that’s exactly what happens in this video, which sees the group starring in one of Hyundai’s four spots during the big game, a 60-second commercial that will feature the band on-camera performing the brand-new, custom-written song bearing that name.
The clip is refreshingly suited for the band: The group suddenly appears in a family’s breakfast room and takes them on an appropriately wild voyage that involves animals, bikers, Space Invaders and even, for the son, a trip inside one of the giant balloons that Lips frontman Wayne Coyne regularly crowdsurfs in at the band’s gigs.
Writing a song for a Super Bowl spot is a rare move for a major act — let alone one with a legacy as unusual as the Flaming Lips. The commercial showcases Hyundai’s Santa Fe, a crossover SUV, and was created by the company’s ad agency of record Innocean.
Advertisers are paying upward of $3.7 million just to air their spot during the big game, and major synchs can fetch anywhere from the lower end of $100,000 to upward of $1 million, depending on the artist, number of territories airing the ad, the length of the commercial “flight,” or airtime (some run for a year), and whether the song has been synched previously.
Hyundai VP of marketing Steve Shannon says the Lips were on a “very short list” of bands the automaker wanted to feature in its Super Bowl spot, and quickly rose to the top after the band noted it was preparing for the release of its next album, The Terror, due April 2 on Warner Bros. Records. In a matter of weeks, not only did the band sign on for the spot and the original song, the track was eventually confirmed for inclusion as a digital bonus track for its upcoming iTunes release. “The Flaming Lips are very much like Hyundai,” Shannon says. “They’re a little offbeat. They’ve been around a long time and they continue to reinvent themselves.”
As part of the partnership, Hyundai will give away 100,000 free downloads of the Lips track at hyundai.com, as well as sponsor a lyric video of the song and 30-second radio ads to drive tune-in to the spot and awareness for the Lips’ upcoming album. “Hyundai really understands and appreciates what the Flaming Lips are all about,” says Lori Feldman, Warner Bros. Records senior VP of brand partnerships.