“Good Morning America” went behind-the-scenes for the making of Hyundai’s emotional Super Bowl commercial this year. The automaker’s ad virtually reunites U.S. troops overseas with their families who were at the big game in Houston.
The commercial was shot in a suite at Super Bowl LI and at an undisclosed overseas military base where Hyundai built “360-degree immersive pods,” which “allowed the soldiers to feel as though they were in the stadium,” the company said in a statement.
The ad was directed by Peter Berg, who told “GMA” today that when he first heard about the idea, his reaction was “that we would never do it, that it was crazy.”
“I’m like, ‘Yeah, OK, sure this is a great idea, you know, this is Hollywood dreaming at its finest,'” Berg said. He credited working with an all-star team for helping this “crazy” idea come into fruition.
“The NFL was really cooperative and the Department of Defense was cooperative, and you know Hyundai’s just extraordinarily gracious and generous,” Berg added.
Berg described how the virtual reunion worked. “Soldiers go sit down in the pod, they pick up some virtual reality glasses they start watching the game,” he explained.
“They think that’s the experience, they’re watching the game,” Berg added. “They take the glasses off, the whole pod lights up 360-degrees … they look to their left and their kids are there, look to the right and their mom’s there.”
The three soldiers featured in the commercial, Sgt. Richard Morrill, Spc. Erik Guerrero and Cpl. Trista Strauch are all stationed at a U.S. military base in Zagan, Poland.
“It’s an opportunity for them to see each other and that should be a very emotional experience,” Berg said.
He continued, “If you’re not careful, you get so caught up in the technical aspects you forget that this is supposed to be a emotional experience. This is about a soldier … far from their family. They haven’t seen their family in almost a year.”
Berg said the “key” to pulling off this live commercial was to rehearse it many times. The commercial would also have to go through a series of approvals before it could air.
“So, we finish it [in] the second quarter then the FOX folks sign off on it, the NFL people sign off on it, Department of Defense signs off on it, Hyundai signs off on it,” he said.
Strauch, a specialist from Colorado Springs, Colorado, on her first deployment, would normally be home watching the Super Bowl with her husband Joseph, who also serves in the Army, and their 16-month-old son.
Once she was seated in the pod and the game lit up on the screens around her, she was shocked to see her husband and son sitting right beside her.
“Being away is pretty rough,” she said. “I’m just worried about my son growing up and missing daily things that he does.”
Joseph added: “This is my first time being a single dad, so having this experience to see her again … it was very emotional.”
“He’s just all love,” Berg said of Joseph’s tearful reunion. “It was really beautiful.”
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