Daewoo Is Shopping Once Again

Assignments of 2 Years Ago Came to Little for Winning Agencies
LOS ANGELES–Daewoo Motor America, the newest Korean entry into the U.S. automotive market, is gearing up again for a review.
The Compton, Calif.-based car maker is contacting Southern California shops about an estimated $20 million national launch Sept. 15 of its year 2000 model cars. The company has done only limited advertising since its U.S. launch last September, despite conducting a series of regional reviews about two years ago.
“We’re in the preliminary phase,” said Colin Lee, marketing specialist for national promotions and advertising at the client. Daewoo is contacting a “handful” of agencies, he said, adding that the process may or may not evolve into a formal review.
The fall campaign would likely be a trial run for the selected shop to handle the full account, he said.
To some, a Daewoo review may feel like dƒjˆ vu. Prior to its U.S. launch, the company selected four agencies for regional ad duties: Ground Zero in Marina del Rey, Calif.; Korey Kay & Partners, New York; Fletcher Martin in Atlanta (then Tausche Martin Lonsdorf); and The Leap Partnership in Chicago.
None did much more than strategic research for the client. Ground Zero executives last week said they were unaware of Daewoo’s new search. Sources said Leap would not participate in the review. Korey Kay did not return calls. Fletcher Martin officials could not be reached for comment
Lee said the company is ready to expand its advertising beyond newspaper and outdoor. “We’re planning to use traditional media: spot TV, radio and newspapers,” he said.
Part of the company’s early ad efforts in this country involved getting college students to pitch its products on campus. Some 60 percent of Daewoo sales have been to college students. Campus “advisers” receive $500 for every car sold.
U.S. sales have started slowly for Daewoo. In its first four months of operation here, the company sold just 4,000 cars and is expected to fall short of its annual sales goal of 50,000.
The company sold approximately 2,500 cars in May, its best month thus far. By comparison, Korean competitors Hyundai sold nearly 15,500 and Kia sold 10,606.
The parent company was also hampered by economic woes in Asia last year, but the South Korean economy appears to be on the rebound. South Korea’s economy, which had been in a deep slump, is recovering thanks largely to a sharp increase in exports, including those of Daewoo. Daewoo is South Korea’s No. 1 automaker.