NEW ORLEANS -- Hyundai will spend 2017 making "better" better.
Seeking to revive its image as a challenger brand and to boost morale among dealers, the automaker plans to spend the year honing the "Make Things Better" message that it first released during the 2016 Super Bowl.
That was one of the takeaways from a prolonged make meeting at the NADA convention between Hyundai executives and dealers that stretched past the two-hour mark, causing some to bail out early and grumble about missed flights.
For Hyundai Motor America interim CEO Jerry Flannery, it was the first official meeting with the full dealer body since he took over for Dave Zuchowski, who was unceremoniously shown the door just before Christmas.
Flannery spoke of changes he intended to put into place, which included broadening the "Better" message that Hyundai debuted with a four-spot onslaught during the 2016 Super Bowl, according to dealers in attendance.
Hyundai plans to boost its Tier 1 digital advertising efforts throughout the year, with an eye on increasing lead volumes for its retailers.
Flannery fielded questions about Hyun-dai's co-op ad budget, to which not all dealers have access. Those who don't have pressed for inclusion while those who do are wary of additional participants dipping into a finite pool of dollars, people familiar with the situation told Automotive News.
Executives also said they expected Hyundai's 2017 performance to top 2016, in which the automaker eked out a nominal 1.7 percent gain to 775,005 vehicles sold (including the Genesis luxury brand), marking the seventh straight record year for sales.
Those gains came with a caveat, however. Fleet sales accounted for more than a quarter of Hyundai's volume -- 203,826 vehicles, according to the automaker, a 16 percent jump over 2015. Together, the Hyundai-Kia group ranked behind only Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in total vehicles sold to fleets.
Hyundai's motivation in 2016 was to bleed off overproduction of sedans, an ongoing concern for dealers. The automaker is reshuffling its car-truck mix for 2017 to better match consumer demand and has said it expects an increase in retail numbers and a decrease in fleeting for the year.