Hyundai aims at family crowd

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The first national sponsors the Women's United Soccer Association signed for its inaugural season include Hyundai Motor America, which will use the games to sell sport-utility vehicles to its core demographic of young families.

The carmaker spends upwards of $120 million annually on U.S. TV advertising, says Paul Seller, director of marketing. Its sports advertising had a heavy cable focus, backing the National Basketball Association on TNT and Sunday night football on ESPN.

Hyundai previously sponsored World Cup soccer games on Univision, targeting the Hispanic market, with positive results. The carmaker also will be the exclusive automotive sponsor of World Cup events in 2002.

"We see soccer as quite intriguing," Mr. Seller says. "It appeals to families with young children, so it has tremendous appeal to our core audience."

The company signed a deal with Turner Sports, giving Hyundai exclusivity for import and domestic autos within the WUSA telecasts for four years.

"We worked closely with the league and Turner to make sure we could fully leverage our sponsorship," says Mr. Seller. Hyundai will set up car displays at stadiums where WUSA events are held, and will give away cash to fans who can kick a goal during halftime promotions. Other WUSA promotions will include a sweepstakes to win a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV.

Hyundai has prepared a print ad to promote its sponsorship of the games. The ad will run in stadium programs and possibly consumer magazines. Cordiant Communications Group's Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif., handles.

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