Hyundai, whose Genesis and Equus nameplates have been advancing its premium-market ambitions, would like to shift the entire brand up a notch. Redesigned models like the new Sonata are of course the
obvious way of doing that, but affinity marketing can't hurt.
The automaker, for example, has been increasing its exposure to golf with a two-year extension of its partnership, along with Kia, of the PGA Hyundai Tournament of Champions. But this year the Fountain Valley-based company is also using Genesis as a pulley to hoist the totally redesigned Sonata upstairs, perceptually, partly by doubling up the two at the World Cup.
The U.S. arm of the automaker, whose Seoul-based parent is corporate sponsor of FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June and July, will be touting the two cars next to each other via media buys against the tournament. The timing happens to make sense as both redesigned cars are launching around the same time, notes Steve Shannon, VP marketing of Hyundai Motor America. He tells Marketing Daily that the automaker’s sponsorship includes auto advertising exclusivity on Univision and ESPN during tournament coverage from June 12 to July 15.
For Sonata, Hyundai will tout engineering, refinement, quietness, body structure, chassis, content, fuel economy and technology, as well as brand attributes like best-in-class warranty. "That's the alchemy for a move up market for us. We will take advantage of the timing of the Genesis sales date, which is almost right on top of Sonata,” says Shannon, adding that advertising the two in proximity reinforces the cars’ family resemblance. “And there are great benefits from having them share media. But we won't make a direct comparison between them.” He says that the bipartite marketing strategy will continue. "For the second half of year we are only advertising two messages, Sonata and Genesis."
Local-market initiatives will play a major role. The company sponsored the 13th Annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational in April. Shannon says the company is extending that with 50 grassroots tournaments that include a charity component.
And he says Hyundai is putting together infrastructure to help dealers and dealer groups create their own golf programs and integrate products and direct-marketing opportunities. "It's a kind of tournament-in-a-box program. We will help dealers who aren't already doing this find great local golf tournaments, with a great charity connection, with CRM tools."
As for Hyundai's potential as a luxury player, Shannon says of the brand: “The new guy on the block” has proven itself a worthy opponent. "If our national market share is 4.5%, our market share in luxury share is significantly higher. Fifty-five percent of Genesis and Equus buyers are from other luxury brands."