Hyundai Hands Richards a ‘Mini-Campaign’

LOS ANGELES Hyundai Motor America last week assigned former national lead agency The Richards Group a “mini-campaign” for next fall through its Eastern regional dealers association, said Joel Ewanick, vp, marketing.

“I saw something we liked,” said Ewanick, who declined to disclose spending on the campaign. “It suits our strategic and tactical needs at the moment.”

The tier-two (retail) work will be funded with factory dollars and is expected to run in all Hyundai regions, Ewanick said. Richards declined comment.

Ewanick stressed that the current lead national agency, Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, remains in good standing, and he stressed that the shop’s “Dollars and sense sales event” campaign was yielding positive results for the Fountain Valley, Calif., automaker.

Independent Richards, Dallas, created all the national and regional advertising for Hyundai before then-COO Steve Wilhite disbanded the dealer groups at the end of 2006 and hired Goodby in April 2007.

Before Goodby came aboard, the Eastern dealers opted to stay together and kept their ad business at Richards, Ewanick said, renewing Richards’ contract in January. According to sources, the value of the business exceeds $25 million in annual media.

A dealer-group system was reinstated as the year began. Sixty-seven groups now operate in six regions: California, East, West, South, South Central and Central. They are free to choose whichever agencies they please for local work, Ewanick said. Goodby continues to handle the bulk of the regional advertising.

The factory funding of the six regions’ advertising is based on “strategic communications objectives, rather than on wholesale. That way we could build programs in regions that are sustainable and consistent,” Ewanick said.