With the hype of the Super Bowl far behind us, it's time to remind some marketing mavens that effective advertising need not be contrived. Take Hyundai, for example. Its message is simple and effective.
Last year Hyundai posted its best year ever, with sales up 82 percent over the previous year. Dave Weber, Hyundai's vice president of marketing, says, 'The improvement can be traced to our long-term commitment to product quality.' For 1999, Hyundai quality moved up several notches from its perennial penultimate or dead-last ranking.
It certainly doesn't hurt that the single marketing message from the Korean maker is one that emphasizes a commitment to stand behind its vehicles. Hyundai's warranty includes 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain protection.
'Our advertising is focused and consistent, concentrating on the `Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty,' program' Weber says.
More of the same
You can expect more of the same for the 2000 model year, with more database marketing and selective placement in magazines, Weber says.
Thanks to increased sales, Hyundai's advertising spending is expected to increase by 15 percent this year, putting it at more than $100 million. Weber says advertising will be concentrated on national cable and network TV, with particular emphasis placed on those markets where Hyundai already is established, or has the best opportunities.
'We will be on air 44 weeks or more this year,' Weber says. 'We will continue concentrating our efforts on promoting Hyundai as a smart buy.'
In addition to increased advertising, Hyundai has in place aggressive promotional programs, including professional soccer.
'We are principal sponsors of the World Cup that will be held in Korea and Japan in 2002,' Weber says. 'As part of that sponsorship, we also sponsor the Gold Cup,' a soccer tournament involving Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Generating sales leads through product placement, sweepstakes and test drives is part of the event-marketing package, Weber says
'In all of our promotional events, our goal it to continue to improve brand image ... to change the way people think about Hyundai,' Weber says.
Changing the way people think about Hyundai will be imperative to its survival. Scheduled for introduction this year are the Santa Fe sport-utility and a full-sized passenger sedan, the XG300. Pricing for the sedan is expected to be in the $22,000 to $24,000 range, which means it will go up against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Oldsmobile Intrigue and Pontiac Grand Prix.
While competing against these vehicles will not be easy, the tide in customer attitude and perception toward Hyundai may have turned.
In a 1999 J.D. Power and Associates study, only Audi exceeded Hyundai's rate of improvement in customer treatment during the sales process - a factor directly related to Hyundai's warranty program, says Tom Libby, a director at J.D. Power.
True, Hyundai's overall sales and customer satisfaction scores still have a long way to go - it's ranked 30th among 36 manufacturers - but it appears that Hyundai's marketing is reaching its intended target: 'people who recognize the value of our vehicles,' Weber says.
Hyundai ads may not win any Clio awards, but they are achieving their primary objective: moving product. How's that for keeping it simple?