Hyundai Names National Fuel-Efficiency Month

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Hyundai Motor America is touting its most fuel-efficient car company status proffered by the EPA with a national campaign that aims to make August officially "Fuel Efficiency Month." The effort, replete with an official White House petition, includes a summer marketing push about Hyundai's fuel economy leadership mated to a a digital education campaign with tips and content about how one can cut fuel consumption and emissions. 

The automaker launched the campaign on June 5, World Environmental Day, placing the petition on http://wh.gov/zAa, and running four simultaneous events in New York, Austin, Chicago and Las Vegas, the substance of which will form the basis of a TV and video campaign later this summer. 

Steve Shannon, VP of marketing at the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based automaker, tells Marketing Daily that the kernel of the idea was planted two months ago when the the EPA came out with the annual study of average fuel economy. Hyundai Motor America got top ranking in the U.S. market for fuel economy and CO2 emissions in the Light-Duty Automotive Technology and Fuel Economy Trends Report, which looked at 2010 model-year vehicles. 

"The 2011 interim data has us with an even bigger lead," he says. "We started thinking about how to communicate this." Shannon says Hyundai's AOR Innocean got the idea to make it a petition drive. "They discovered that there is a day or month for everything -- there's 'National Shrimp Scampi Day,' [April 29] and 'Talk Like A Pirate' Day' -- but nothing at all promoting fuel economy. We felt that it deserves a day, and probably a month. We'd like to have it sell some Hyundais, but also improve the environment." 

Shannon explains that the four events on Tuesday, which were filmed for the ads, "were sort of like flash mobs meet big red gas cans." While he couldn't come out and describe the ads, he gave a big hint, especially if you consider the big red gas cans: "To put a finer point on it, take Sonata and compare it to a competitive product based on Hyundai's fuel economy. How much more gas would you need to operate that other vehicle? How much would you save driving the Sonata?"

He says that in addition to the vehicle marketing vector to the campaign, "It's a real education effort. Even if you have a 10-year-old pickup truck, there are a lot of things you can do to save fuel."

There is also a Facebook element that tracks the petition, has fuel efficiency driving tips and dangles a chance to win free gas for a year. In 2010, Hyundai announced plans to garner a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) rating of at least 50 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025 for its lineup of passenger cars and light duty trucks. 

Hyundai’s fuel economy strategy uses Hyundai’s global Blue Drive strategy, aligning R&D resources at its engineering centers in California, Michigan, Korea, India and Germany to develop more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.

Separately, sibling brand Kia has launched its own fuel-efficiency campaign for the Kia Optima Hybrid. The humorous “World Record” effort plays on the Optima Hybrid having set a Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid gasoline vehicle by driving all 48 contiguous United States on just 5½ tanks of gas. The new campaign is targeted to Gen Xers and early Baby Boomers who want a car with all the amenities and space of a midsize -- but that also happens to be a hybrid for maximizing fuel efficiency, per a spokesperson.

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