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Hyundai's 2010 ad plan: Spend big on Sonata & Tucson

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Hyundai's 2010 ad plan: Spend big on Sonata
Kathy Jackson
Automotive News
October 19, 2009 - 12:01 am ET

LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai Motor America's top marketer promises no letup in the aggressive advertising strategy that has helped Hyundai notch the biggest share gain of any brand this year.

Hyundai will spend about half of its estimated $500 million to $550 million marketing budget for 2010 on two redesigned vehicles: the mid-sized Sonata sedan and the small Tucson crossover. Both go on sale in the first quarter.

The overall marketing budget is expected to be about the same as in 2009. But Hyundai Motor America will spend more to bring out the Sonata than it has on any vehicle launch in its history, Joel Ewanick, vice president of marketing, said in an interview.

He said Hyundai will spend about twice what it did to launch the Genesis luxury sedan in the summer of 2008. Sources say Hyundai spent $80 million on the Genesis.

Hyundai has raised eyebrows with its marketing this year, including the blockbuster Assurance program that allows buyers who lose their jobs to return cars within a year of purchase.

Hyundai sales were up 1 percent through September in an overall market down 27 percent. The brand's 4.4 percent share is up from 3.1 percent in the same period in 2008.

Now Ewanick said it's time to make a serious run at the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion.

"We're going to make a significant push in the mid-sized segment with the Sonata," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us to solidify our market share."

Most of the money will go for network broadcast and network cable TV, heavily slanted toward major sporting events such as the Super Bowl.

For the first time, Hyundai will spend big on soccer's World Cup, which will be shown on ESPN. The brand also will continue sponsorship of the Academy Awards, which it took over from General Motors this year.

For the Tucson, Ewanick said Hyundai will spend about what it did on the Genesis.

"The Genesis brought new, incremental customers, but the volume with Sonata and Tucson could be significant," Ewanick said.

He did not give a sales goal for the new Sonata. Through September, the Sonata has been Hyundai's volume leader with sales of 93,575, down 4 percent from last year. Tucson sales were down 21 percent to 12,772.

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