Editor's note: This report has been corrected to reflect the proper name of Innocean Worldwide Americas. Also, it has been corrected to say that the agency has not had a chief operating officer for the Hyundai account since last year.
NEW YORK -- Hyundai Motor America intends to hire a new marketing chief this month ahead of a brand-building push that will kick off this summer, CEO Dave Zuchowski said.
The automaker has a short list of candidates for the job, which has been vacant since former U.S. marketing boss Steve Shannon left in November. Zuchowski said that although he had wanted to have a new top marketer on board by January, the company opted to take its time to find the right candidate to oversee the brand-building effort.
"This is a really, really important hire for us so ... let's not rush this," Zuchowski told Automotive News.
The new candidate will take over an advertising budget that spent $474 million in 2013, according to Advertising Age. The company has reallocated funds from dealer co-op and regional dealer-group ad budgets to boost spending on national ads by around 20 percent this year, Zuchowski said.
"Tier 1 is really the only place to build your brand and define who we are and what we stand for. It's very difficult to do that at Tier 2 and Tier 3," he said. "We're also going to change the look, feel and tonality of our ads."
Zuchowski said Hyundai needs a sharper brand message after it became muddled during the last few years as major new products were rolled out at a rapid pace. The result has been a "house of brands" rather than a "branded house," Zuchowski said.
Now, Hyundai wants to brand the house. The effort will develop over the next year and evolve with each campaign.
"We were launching vehicles every six months. We really became a model-specific brand," Zuchowski said. "Each had a different message, tonality and target audience, and there really wasn't an overarching brand theme that provided that emotional connection to the brand."
Hyundai's marketing team and its agency, Innocean USA, have been developing the rebranding effort during the search for a marketing chief. In addition, the agency has been without a chief operating officer on the Hyundai account since last year, a search for which is also underway.