LOS ANGELES -- The launch of Saturn more than 20 years ago was a key factor in Hyundai's decision to hire former General Motors executive Steve Shannon as its marketing boss last week.
Shannon, 52, held top marketing posts at Saab, Oldsmobile, Buick and, most recently, Cadillac. He joined GM in 1982, but his first big job was at Saturn.
Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik says Shannon injected Saturn's early marketing with "truth, candor and conversation."
The brand made a splash in 1990 by targeting imports and using no-haggle pricing. The ads also were unique. The brand was launched with the tag line "A different kind of company. A different kind of car," created by Hal Riney & Partners of San Francisco.
Shannon was director of consumer marketing for Saturn at the time.
He was pulled from Saturn to become Oldsmobile's general manager of marketing in 1995. He later held marketing and brand leadership posts with other GM brands, including Saab, Buick and Cadillac. He left GM in 2010 during one of the company's executive shake-ups under then-CEO Ed Whitacre.
But during Hyundai's lengthy interview process, Shannon's Saturn work continued to come up, Krafcik says.
Shannon replaces Chris Perry, who left Hyundai last August to lead Chevrolet's marketing department.