Hyundai Names Richards Group Exec as Its Marketing Chief

Joel Ewanick Has Worked With Automaker Since 2004

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Hyundai Motor America said Joel Ewanick will become VP-marketing, filling a position that has been vacant since Michelle Cervantez left abruptly last October.
Joel Ewanick
Joel Ewanick

Mr. Ewanick will report directly to Chief Operating Officer Steve Wilhite, who arrived last August from Nissan.

Mr. Ewanick had been director-brand planning since 2004 at Hyundai's national creative agency, Richards Group, Dallas, and has worked with the carmaker's executives.

Boost for Richards?
His arrival, expected today, could help Richards solidify its standing with its client, which last month handed a national project to Siltanen & Partners, Marina del Rey, Calif. Rob Siltanen, the agency's founder, at the time said his shop is in the process of creating a full national campaign for a whole range of products, with more than two TV spots and print being worked up.

Richards had also handled all five of Hyundai's large regional dealer ad groups, which the automaker disbanded Jan. 1. Less than two months ago, Hyundai issued 90-day termination letters to Richards for those accounts, which had spending totaling almost $300 million annually. Dealers, who are forming more and smaller ad associations, can invite Richards to pitch their accounts.

Mr. Wilhite said in a prepared statement that his new marketing VP has shown the automaker innovative and creative marketing approaches. "Hyundai has a big job this year to further improve its brand image, increase consideration and bring even more shoppers to the brand," he said. "I'm confident Joel can lead the Hyundai marketing team to achieve these tough objectives and tell our stories in a compelling way."

Nine years at Porsche
Mr. Ewanick's prior auto experience includes a nine-year stint through 1998 as general marketing manager of Porsche Cars North America. Mr. Ewanick also worked at Team One Advertising, El Segundo, Calif., from 1988-1989 on the introduction of Toyota's Lexus brand.

Hyundai's vehicle sales were flat in 2006 vs. 2005. The automaker reported selling 455,520 units last year, just 508 more than in 2005.

David Zuchowski also joins Hyundai today as VP-sales from Mazda North American Operations, where he was VP-sales and field operations. Previously he had served in a number of positions at Ford Motor Co., which he joined in 1980. He succeeds Mark Barnes, who left late last year for DaimlerChrysler.
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