Goodby Wins Hyundai Creative

Beats Out Arnold and Three Others to Grab Account

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Hyundai Motor America has tapped Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, as its new national creative agency after a two-month review, according to executives close to the situation.
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Hyundai kicked off the review without a consultant after announcing in late February it was ending its relationship with incumbent Richards Group, Dallas.

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Among the 15-member panel deciding the contest were two dealers and executives from Hyundai's Fountain Valley, Calif., office.

The other four shops that made it to the final round of the review were: Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston; independents Siltanen & Partners, Marina del Rey, Calif., and Strawberry Frog, New York; and MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York.

"We're known for working very, very fast and we know that Goodby, Silverstein & Partners will keep up pace," Hyundai VP-Marketing Joel Ewanick said in a statement.

Amalgamated not a finalist
Despite published reports, Amalgamated, New York, was not a finalist, although it did try unsuccessfully to get into the review, executives close to the situation said.

The automaker kicked off the review without a consultant after announcing in late February it was ending its relationship with incumbent Richards Group, Dallas. The agency had lost all Hyundai's regional dealer ad work the prior month when the client disbanded its five groups, which the independent agency also handled. Those groups spent some $300 million annually in measured media, dealers told Advertising Age.

The carmaker said it would start a review for its $30 million Hispanic agency after this review was completed. Hyundai terminated its contract with incumbent Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Coral Gables, Fla., in early March. Goodby presented Hispanic-targeted work along with its general-market presentation, according to an executive close to the matter, though the Omnicom Group agency's co-chairman, Jeff Goodby, did not return calls by press time.

Flat first-quarter sales
The marketer's first-quarter U.S. vehicle sales were flat. Despite a record March, Hyundai said it sold 104,205 cars and trucks through March -- that's 1,783 fewer than the same period a year ago. Sales of its best-selling model, the Sonata sedan (which is built in the U.S.), dropped to 29,997 in the most recent period vs. 42,871 units in the first quarter of 2006.

Goodby became available after being cut loose in January by General Motors Corp.'s $190 million Saturn brand. The agency knows the car business, having also had Isuzu and Porsche as clients in the past.

The change comes as Hyundai aims to keep boosting U.S. sales and readies a move upmarket in 2008 with its premium sedan based on the Genesis concept shown at the New York auto show this month. The automaker reported its eighth consecutive year-over-year sales jump, selling 455,520 vehicles in the U.S. in 2006, a slight bump from 2005. But the 2006 tally was still short of Hyundai's goal of 500,000 units, partly due to a month-long factory strike in South Korea. Hyundai's 2007 goal is to sell 550,000 new vehicles.

"We are thrilled and honored to work with Hyundai at this very important time for their brand. There is a great opportunity to share their fantastic product stories and push their momentum even further," Jeff Goodby, the agency's co-chairman, said in a statement.
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