That push to grow beyond its founding -- and very large --
client comes at a time when there's been much debate in adland over
the potential for such dedicated agencies to be successful,
especially given the lack of diverse creative opportunities
afforded to talent that works there.
The largest holding company in the world, WPP, has poured
immense resources into setting up agency teams, the most recent
being Red Fuse for Colgate. All told, WPP has half a dozen of
these now, and it's had mixed success. The biggest success story
the industry can point to when it comes to these dedicated-agency
structures is WPP's Team Detroit, which expanded beyond its
founding client Ford to diversify its client base, as Innocean is
now attempting to do. WPP's largest failure in this regard was
Enfatico, which talked about wanting to grow beyond founding client
Dell but quickly folded.
Steve Shannon, VP-marketing at Hyundai Motor America, told Ad
Age in an email that he's eager to see Innocean add clients beyond
"Creativity is the lifeblood of an agency, and the opportunity
to work on a different business, in a different category, with a
different target consumer group, allows them to stretch their
thinking, grow their capabilities, learn new tools and challenge
their creative teams."
Mr. Shannon is hoping the agency will be able to attract not
just any accounts, but business in specific sectors that he feels
are complementary to the auto space.
"Two areas of particular interest to me would be the
luxury-goods sector as well as the millennial target audience," he
said. "Hyundai's Genesis and Equus luxury sedans both compete
effectively in the luxury-car space, so it is very important for us
to keep current and understand how this particular 'modern premium'
consumer audience ticks." He added that "to keep millennials
interested in our brand, it is all about staying in constant touch
with popular culture and technology, and communicating with them in
an honest, authentic dialog. So ultimately, we hope that Innocean
adds clients that complement these two target areas."
According to the Ad Age Datacenter, Hyundai ranks as the
69th-largest national marketer. In the U.S. alone it spent nearly
$560 million last year on advertising.
In April of last year, Ad Age took a close look at Innocean's model. Even
then, the shop bristled at the association with being an "in-house"
shop. Innocean's Korean management had made clear that it was not
only important to them to set up a full-service agency that offers
creative, media planning and buying and promotions capabilities for
Hyundai, but it also wanted to prove its chops beyond the auto
sector. If it can, it would mimic the model of Innocean's
headquarters in Seoul, where more than half of the revenue comes
from business outside of Hyundai or Kia.
Asked whether the single-client model is problematic from a
creative perspective, Innocean USA Chief Creative Officer Greg
Braun answered, "A creative department can be inspired by a diverse
Still, we probably won't see Innocean quickly scale by adding
accounts in a number of different sectors; it has not appointed a
head of new business and new accounts will be pursued by a
collective of staff. Said Mr. Braun: "Hyundai is a best-in-class
brand and FootJoy is a best in class brand. We're definitely not
doing the thing where we're perusing anything that comes along or
just anyone that 's interested in the agency."