Wiley Picks Up Direct Project From Hyundai

Hyundai Motor America has hired women’s specialty marketing agency Wiley & Associates in Westlake Village, Calif., to handle a national direct marketing assignment for the automaker’s 1999 Sonata. Also, with an interim management team on hand, Hyundai may delay general advertising for the Sonata until the first quarter.
Although Wiley specializes in women’s marketing, David Axline, Hyundai’s manager of customer databases, said it was the agency’s “good creative strategies and framework” that helped it land the project. He said the direct campaign will be aimed at both men and women. “Our job is to get potential customers into the showrooms for a test drive,” said agency president Caryn Wiley.
Hyundai may push back general Sonata advertising in favor of other short-term initiatives–including, sources said, several warranty programs and a push into safety messages related to Hyundai’s safety-belt design–to drive dealer traffic and assuage lingering consumer doubts about Hyundai’s product quality.
“The [client] has made no decisions yet on its fall plans,” said Tim Hart, president and chief executive officer at Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif., which handles Hyundai’s estimated $90 million general ad account.
Decisions may come in the next few weeks, however, now that a month-long labor strike at the South Korean automaker’s largest plant is over.
Hyundai’s greater problem, said analysts and competitors, is its failure so far to attract an American chief operating officer who can lead efforts to right the struggling brand.
Currently, longtime general counsel Fin O’Neill is interim COO of the company’s Fountain Valley, Calif., offices. Human resources director Kathy Parker is acting as national ad manager. Sales/marketing chief Bob Parker, marketing director Maurice Bowen and national ad director Bruce Goren all left at the end of 1997. Former COO Doug Mazza exited earlier this year.
–with David Kile