The Brit’s historical axiom to announce the demise of the ruling monarch is, “The King is dead. Long live the King.” After General Motors double-dip executive raid of the marketing department of Hyundai America the operative phrase could be, “The CMO is gone. Long live the CMO. But he’s gone too!”
It was a true WTF moment. Buzz in the biz was based on several questions: What was last year’s marketing company of the year going to do? What could they do? Could they continue trend setting creative and blockbusting media buys? But this was just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to the unexpected departure of the two key execs this last year, Hyundai — in a startling move, without a review — replaced, Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein and Partners with a new agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas. This caused some controversy because Innocean was not just a new agency, it is a house agency owned by the brand’s parent, Hyundai Motor Group of Seoul, Korea. And house agencies are a creative anathema to many in the industry.
Is the king really dead?
Based on a preview of new Sonata turbo campaign last week, Hyundai has not skipped a beat and continues its bold and distinctive advertising. When I asked John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai about the new campaign, the first since the departures, he responded, “Our agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas, is and has been the source of our innovative marketing programs and marketing communications since they became agency of record last year. Their passion for the brand is extraordinary.”