Hyundai Preps Creative Shift

LOS ANGELES Hyundai Motor America today told lead agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco that it would transition creative chores to World Marketing Group in Irvine, Calif., sometime next year, according to Joel Ewanick, the client’s vp, marketing.

Hyundai spent $455 million on ads in 2007 and $155 million through June 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Omnicom’s Goodby, which won the business following a review in April 2007, could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We’re not parting ways anytime in the near future,” said Ewanick. “Goodby will handle the marketing through the first quarter of 2009, and quite possibly throughout the rest of 2009.”

Ewanick said the company is transitioning to a new business model in which all global marketing will be tied together. WMG, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, has been tapped to lead that unified effort, he said. WMG is joint venture between Hyundai and Kia, but not an in-house operation.

WMG, known as Innocean everywhere but in the U.S., is the global media marketing group for Hyundai and Kia. The shop in May hired Jim Sanfilippo, most recently CMO at WPP Group’s Team Detroit, as its U.S. evp and COO. He reports to William Y.W. Lee, CEO.

Goodby will remain on the business to help the automaker during the transition. That includes working on the 2009 Super Bowl spot for the Hyundai Genesis coupe, and possibly keeping the online creative assignment in perpetuity, Ewanick said.

“We are very happy with Goodby’s work, which we consider outstanding,” said Ewanick. “Any conjecture about this representing a failure in the Genesis launch is incorrect. Our numbers for the Genesis launch are through the roof, including the fact that 28 percent of Genesis buyers have traded in a [competitor’s] luxury car.” Senior Hyundai management, including president and CEO Jason Kim, has likewise expressed no dissatisfaction with the brand marketing, he said.

Ewanick also vociferously denied dealer complaints about the advertising: “They’re concerned about the world economy and the credit crisis. I have not heard one word from the dealer council or marketing subcommittee regarding the marketing direction of the brand.”

Goodby now is free to compete for any automotive business up for review from this point forward without restriction from Hyundai, Ewanick said.

Hyundai and Kia’s consolidated media moved to Interpublic Group’s Initiative in January following a review. That assignment is staying put, Ewanick said. –with Andrew McMains