Parent Company Said to Plan Marketing Realignment

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Kia Motors America has placed the creative portion of its $240 million advertising account in review, a spokesman for the automaker said.

The move comes as the automaker's South Korean parent is expected this month to internally announce its global product and marketing plans for both Kia and affiliate Hyundai Motor Co.

New product strategies
According to a recent report in Automotive News, Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman Chung Mong-Koo plans a move to a new marketing strategy for Hyundai and Kia vehicles, with Kia concentrating on smaller, lower-priced and sportier cars while Hyundai will have larger, more luxurious cars. Vehicles for the two lines will soon be developed with shared platforms, powertrains and parts.

The car company hired independent shop David & Goliath in late 1999 and the agency has been guaranteed a berth in the finals, said Kim Custer, the spokesman. "Unlike companies which have the same agency for 20 years, we don't think the best way to succeed in an environment that changes as much as the automobile business is to continue to work with vendor partners without seeing who else is out there and what else is there," he said.

Mr. Kim said that the review had "nothing to do with the quality of the work David & Goliath has done. The agency was a startup when it landed Kia's creative account in 1999 without a review.

Search consultant AAR Partners, New York, will handle the review.

Agency's cornerstone account
The Kia account is David & Goliath's cornerstone account. Other clients include Outback Steak House, Universal, Papa Murphy's Take and Bake Pizza and Baccardi. The agency has about 90 employees and annual billings of about $350 million.

David Angelo, David & Goliath's principal and creative director, said Kia had has record sales for five months and that his agency has "the utmost confidence we do the best work and are getting the best results."

Kia had measured spending in 2003 of $239.7 million, down slightly from $240.4 million in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Aegis' Carat USA of New York and Irvine, Calif., handles media buying for Kia along with its affiliate Hyundai Motor America. Kia's media planning and buying account is not in review.

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