RICHARDS GROUP WINS HYUNDAI $160 MILLION ACCOUNT

Will Open Office Near Client to Help Manage Business

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Hyundai Motor America tapped Richards Group, Dallas, for its $160 million national creative account.

The independent agency will take over the account May 1, the day after Hyundai's contract expires with incumbent Cordiant Communications Group's Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif. Richards' first work will arrive in the fourth quarter.

Bates has handled the account since Hyundai started selling cars in the U.S. 15 years ago. It was a finalist with Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, and Publicis West, Seattle.

Stan Richards,

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agency principal, said his shop was informed of the decision this afternoon.

One of shop's largest accounts
Hyundai will be one of the agency's largest accounts. Mr. Richards said his agency will open an account management office near the client but that Hyundai would be managed out of the agency's Dallas headquarters. Principal Dale Hruby will be the senior account manager. Mr. Richards said the agency will hire about two dozen people to work on Hyundai, with about half that number working in Southern California.

Dave Weber, vice president of marketing at Hyundai, said Richards had the best strategy and creative. He said all the agencies "got generally to the same area" on compensation.

"We didn't go with the lowest price that was submitted," said Mr. Weber.

Bates
Late last year, Bates wasn't invited to defend Hyundai's national media planning and buying account. Aegis Group's Carat North America, New York, won the $460 million account, the result of the automaker's South Korean parent's push to consolidate with that of sibling Kia Motors America.

An executive at Bates said "it's just too soon" to say if the agency will let any employees go.

At Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, executives had compensation discussions with Hyundai, but did not hear again from the carmaker until they learned today that they did not win the account, an executive familiar with the situation said.

The review was a boost to at least one losing agency, Riney's sibling shop, Publicis in the West, Seattle, a newly repositioned shop that made it to the final round.

Staff writers Hillary Chura and Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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