LOS ANGELES Hyundai Motor America said it has named Richards Group director of brand planning Joel Ewanick vice president of marketing.
Richards in Dallas is Hyundai's lead agency.
Ewanick, who will work under COO Steve Wilhite, was for seven years general manager of marketing for Porsche until he abruptly left the company in the middle of a 1998 review in which independent Richards was a finalist.
"Joel has demonstrated innovative and creative marketing approaches during the time he has worked with us while at Richards. Hyundai has a big job this year to further improve its brand image, increase consideration and bring even more shoppers to the brand. I'm confident Joel can lead the Hyundai marketing team to achieve these tough objectives and tell our stories in a compelling way," Wilhite said.
The appointment of Ewanick ends a months-long search for a replacement for vp, marketing Michelle Cervantez, who parted with the company last fall shortly after Wilhite joined.
"He knows the car business, his experience is unique and he'll bring a great deal to the plate on behalf of Hyundai," said Mike Malone, the new creative leader at Richards, who worked with Ewanick for several years.
Malone would not hint at the direction Ewanick might take Hyundai. "It is a special brand and it is evolving," Malone said. "The challenge is that it is still a brand being formed in people's minds."
The company also today named David Zuchowski vp, sales. He had been vp, sales and field operations at Mazda.
Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Hyundai spent $560 million on domestic advertising through the first 11 months of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Sales were flat in 2006 at 456,000 units, and down 8 percent in January 2007 compared to the first month of the previous year, according to Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation and additional details.