Hyundai Chooses New Ad Agency

Hyundai Motors America chose Goodby Silverstein & Partners as its new ad agency on Tuesday for its $300 million national ad account. Goodby, which until recently had been handling ad duties for General Motors’ Saturn brand, is expected to launch new advertising for the South Korean brand within a few months.


Hyundai’s biggest task, says director of marketing Joel Ewanick, is to “move the brand to a new place in consumers’ heads and hearts.” Hyundai has been the fastest growing company in the auto industry, but sales growth has slowed of late. Sales were flat last year at 455,000 despite the addition of new products like the Azera sedan and Entourage minivan. And sales of the Sonata sedan, now built at the company’s Alabama assembly plant, are off 30 percent in the first quarter.


Hyundai says only about 23 percent of consumers in the new-car segments in which Hyundai competes are actually considering the brand. That’s about one third the consideration that Toyota gets. The company sees improving Hyundai’s brand image as crucial to not only reigniting sales of established models like Sonata and Elantra but also getting the Azera better established and making successes out of the new Veracruz crossover. Then there's also a premium rear-drive sedan it plans to launch next year, a sedan based on the Genesis concept it showed this month at the New York International Auto Show.


Goodby bested a list of some of the most creative ad agencies in the U.S. : Strawberry Frog, Kirshenbaum Bond +Partners, Arnold Communications, and Siltanen and Partners. The San Francisco-based Goodby is known for campaigns for Saturn, The California Milk Processors Board, Comcast, HP and Haagen-Dazs. At Saturn the agency had a hard time connecting with the client on a strategy, and Saturn went through three advertising themes in five years. The idea, or slogan, Goodby pitched for Hyundai this month was “Have A Nice Car,” though Ewanick said that the line the automaker launches the new agency’s new work with will be different.


A few years ago, Hyundai had a target of selling one million vehicles in North America by 2010. That has been dialed back to 700,000. The automaker spends about $300 million a year on national advertising, and its dealers spend about the same.


Hyundai earlier this month kicked off a new advertising effort produced by Siltanen, which had scored an assignment from Hyundai before the company decided to review its ad account, which was formerly at The Richards Group of Dallas . Those ads carry the theme “Smart Move,” and boast, in one for example that compares a Sonata sedan to a BMW 525i, that “There’s nothing smarter than a buying a Hyundai.” The idea is to show that Hyundai buyers get more bang for their bucks.

Related Articles


Hyundai Lays Down Challenge with Genesis by TCC Team (4/5/2007)
Koreans hope for Lexus-like respect with sedan.


Hyundai Azera Gets New Base Model by Marty Padgett (3/19/2007)
Smaller V-6, lower price tag.


Hyundai Plans U.S. Engine Plant by Marty Padgett (3/13/2007)
Factory will supply Ala., Ga. plants.

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