Hyundai Motor America, through its South Korean parent company's global sponsorship agreement, is using the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa to continue its high-profile sports marketing in North America.
Hyundai Motor Co. has been the official automotive sponsor for soccer's championship, which takes place every four years, since 2006, when the World Cup was in Germany.
In the United States, Hyundai is raising its awareness through a number of major sporting events. This fall, the company will begin sponsoring the pre-game show for NBC's "Sunday Night Football" NFL broadcasts. Hyundai already is the major automotive sponsor of the Super Bowl.
Chris Perry, Hyundai Motor America's new marketing boss, has said the company won't back away from its aggressive brand-building strategy.
"Through this multifaceted campaign," he said, "we hope to add to the excitement of the world's greatest game by speaking to and engaging FIFA World Cup fans all across the U.S."
The early returns, in terms of audience, say it's paying off.
The U.S.-England game on June 12 was the fifth-most-viewed soccer telecast ever on ABC, according to the network. It averaged 8.4 million households and 12.9 million viewers.
Nationally, matches on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 are averaging a 2.1 rating and 3.3 million viewers. Both numbers are up more than 50 percent over the 2006 tournament.
Hyundai's integrated media campaign encompasses ads during ABC's and ESPN's World Cup coverage, totaling nearly 300 ad slots during the monthlong tournament. Hyundai also is using radio, print, online and outdoor ads.
The company is the exclusive auto sponsor of all 64 World Cup halftime shows and is on "Sports Center," "World Cup Prime" and "World Cup Live." Hyundai also is running print ads in ESPN Magazine and ads on ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile and ESPNsoccernet.com.
The campaign -- with the theme "Loyalty," created by Innocean Worldwide Americas in Irvine, Calif. -- shows stories of soccer fan loyalty from around the world while combining it with Hyundai's top owner-loyalty ranking in Brand Key's 2010 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.
The online strategy aims to connect with fans' passion for their teams.
Hyundai has a "Loyalty" quiz on ESPNsoccernet that gauges fans' alliance to their teams. Soccer fans also can go to Hyundai's YouTube brand channel at youtube.com/hyundai and create a video celebrating their teams.
Hyundai created three 30-second TV commercials for the World Cup, but the automaker was forced to pull one ad last week after complaints from Catholic organizations.
The 30-second ad, called "Wedding," showed services at a South American church where fans worship soccer. It showed a soccer ball wearing a crown of thorns, communion being administered in the form of pizza and other elements of Catholicism recast as soccer fanaticism.
Catholic organizations complained that the ad was sacrilegious and offensive, and Hyundai pulled the spot.