It’s Official: Hyundai to Goodby

LOS ANGELES Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners has won creative chores on Hyundai’s $600 million ad account following a review, the client has confirmed.

“Hyundai is committed to making further major steps in improving its brand image and increasing sales in the United Sates. We believe that the superb strategic thinking and creative executions that we have seen from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners will take Hyundai Motor America to a much higher level,” said client vp, marketing Joel Ewanick, in a statement.

Other contenders were Havas’ Arnold in Boston; MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York; independents Amalgamated and StrawberryFrog, both in New York, and Siltanen & Partners in Santa Monica, Calif., per sources.

Siltanen broke a national campaign for Hyundai this week tagged “Smart move.” The work was produced on a project basis. Hyundai’s primary incumbent, independent The Richards Group in Dallas, did not defend.

“Siltanen’s work is basically on the right track,” said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of the shop in San Francisco. “What we showed [Hyundai] was less confrontational but no less competitive. Hyundai has to be fearless in comparisons and not be afraid to be the last place shoppers visit. ”

Goodby added that he expected the first advertising from his shop to break in May.

“There is a great opportunity to share their fantastic product stories and push their momentum even further,” Goodby said. “I think the brand is ready to take off and we’ll be ready to augment that. We feel incredibly lucky to be with Hyundai at this point in their history.”

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 eventually eliminated from the Volvo contest.

This marks Goodby’s second major win in less than a month, following its recent victory in a review for Sprint Nextel’s $1.2 billion account. Hyundai is the fourth car brand in the agency’s history, after Isuzu, Porsche and GM’s Saturn. Goodby said his experience on Isuzu and Saturn would be particularly relevant to Hyundai in that all three brands have fiercely loyal followers. “We have to talk to them while bringing in new people,” Goodby said. “When it comes to that challenge, Saturn taught us that no amount of research on the [loyalists] is too much.”

Amalgamated and Arnold made late entries into the Hyundai pitch process. (The client said five shops made final presentations, but did not identify which one of the contenders was either cut or dropped out before the review’s last phase.)

Arnold, pitching in tandem with the London office of independent Nitro, is also a finalist for Volvo’s $150 million global ad business. The Swedish automaker invited that team and Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis back for another round of presentations this week, with a decison imminent.

Hyundai launched its review in February and was said to have pushed back its agency presentation schedule by a few weeks in part to accommodate Arnold. The agency had worked with Hyundai COO Steve Wilhite when he led marketing efforts at Volkswagen of America.

Arnold used different teams to pitch the two car accounts: a group from its Boston HQ for Volvo, another from its New York outpost for Hyundai.

Revenue on the global Volvo account is estimated at $15 million; Hyundai’s domestic business carries revenue of more than $20 million, according to sources.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation and additional details.