6th Shop Emerges in Hyundai Pitch

NEW YORK Amalgamated has emerged as the sixth contender in Hyundai’s $600 million creative review, sources said.

Yesterday, Adweek.com reported that Havas’ Arnold, already a finalist in Volvo’s $150 million global creative review, was also pursuing Hyundai.

Amalgamated executives could not be reached for comment. The independent agency is based in New York.

A Hyundai executive confirmed that Siltanen & Partners was in the review, but declined to identify the others, adding that the company hopes to make a decision after finals next week.

Other contenders include Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, independent StrawberryFrog and MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, according to sources.

Arnold, a Havas-owned shop based in Boston, is partnering with independent Nitro in London to pitch Volvo. The Swedish automaker last week invited that team and Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis back for another round of presentations during the week of April 16.

Hyundai launched its review in February and is said to have pushed back its agency presentation schedule by a few weeks in part to accommodate Arnold.

The new pitch schedule, however, was set before Volvo unexpectedly added its lightning round. As planned, Volvo, a unit of Ford, was to hire an agency last week. Instead, the Volvo and Hyundai reviews are now on similar timetables, with some Hyundai contenders pitching next week.

Volvo is said to be aware of Arnold’s parallel pursuit of Hyundai.

Replying via e-mail to a question about Arnold pursuing Hyundai, Volvo global chief marketing officer Tim Ellis said: “I only know that the [Arnold] team is 100 percent committed to working on this pitch. I’m sure it’s possible that they are talking to Hyundai as an option should they not prevail. As they are one of two in the finals for our pitch, they have every reason to feel confident.

“Basically, we leave the management of their overall resources to them, but I am sure that we are getting their full attention.”

Hyundai marketing executives approached several Volvo contenders in late February, in hopes of rounding out its list. At the time, Goodby had been partnering with sister shop 180 in the Volvo review, but the former withdrew to pitch Hyundai instead, leaving 180 on its own. That shop and the primary incumbent, Havas’ Euro RSCG, were eliminated from the Volvo contest last week.

A separate team from Arnold that includes execs from its New York office is said to be working on Hyundai. That group attended a recent briefing and is preparing for a presentation, said sources.

Revenue on the global Volvo account is estimated at $15 million, while Hyundai’s domestic business carries revenue of more than $20 million, according to sources. But since Arnold is partnering with Nitro, should it win Volvo, they’ll share the revenue. That said, Arnold has made Volvo the priority, said sources.

Arnold declined comment. Hyundai’s CCO, Steve Wilhite, used to work with Arnold when he was a top marketing executive at Volkswagen of America.

This story updates and replaces an item posted yesterday with the news that Amalgamated is pitching Hyundai.