Dean Evans, the marketing whiz behind Hyundai's sometimes cheeky and sometimes moving Super Bowl ads, is leaving his position as head of U.S. marketing with many laurels to rest on. But that's not how he operates.
Evans remains passionate about the auto industry after 30 years living through its ups and downs and plans a business venture looking for new ways to increase dealer profitability at a time of rapid change and potential upheaval in some markets.
"I have been fortunate that since I got into the auto industry, and after 10 great assignments, each has been great in its own way," he said in an email interview with Automotive News last week. "I am very fortunate for a good batting average here. I also chase rabbits on occasion. That's what is happening again."
Evans, 52, didn't provide specifics — only that it would be focused primarily on marketing and improving the dealer experience. "This vertical is my focus and specialty. I love the people in it. U.S. dealers need to be more profitable. It's my top priority with my next assignment."
He added that there were a "few options being reviewed."
Prior to joining Hyundai in 2015, Evans was district manager at Chrysler in the 1990s, director of interactive marketing at Land Rover North America in the early 2000s, chief marketing officer at Dealer.com from 2007 to 2011, and chief marketing officer at Subaru of America from 2011 to 2014.
He was named an Automotive News All-Star in 2013 and 2018.
Evans said his biggest accomplishments after four years at Hyundai Motor America include helping to build out the strongest marketing team at Hyundai — one that "participates in revenue generation seriously."
Brand strength as measured by InterBrand metrics is up. The Better Drives Us brand campaign has produced memorable ads such as the witty Super Bowl spot featuring the brand's Shopper Assurance.
Evans is also proud of launching the Hyundai Way, focusing on quality, safety and low ownership costs for Hyundai vehicles, which now rival the Japanese 3 brands that the Korean automaker has been chasing for so long.
"Breaks my heart to leave such a great Hyundai family," Evans said, adding that he is "very pumped about my desire to help U.S. dealers become more profitable. That's my next North Star and what I am doing next."
North America CEO Jose Munoz, who has been building his leadership team over the last half year, now has another position to fill after Evans' departure. The automaker wished its marketing guru well in his next endeavors.
Brian Smith, COO of Hyundai's U.S. arm, will take over Evans' duties on an interim basis.
A search for a permanent replacement is underway.
In the first nine months of 2019, Hyundai brand sales are up 2.8 percent to 506,356 vehicles, compared with a U.S. light-vehicle market that was down 1.6 percent.