Sources close to the company say Steve Shannon, VP marketing, is departing Hyundai Motor America. No confirmation from HMA or Shannon just yet. The General Motors alumnus, who tied up his 25 years at GM as marketing chief at Cadillac, was hired by the Orange Country, CA-based marketer in 2011. At Hyyndai he replaced Joel Ewanick who went the other direction to become head of marketing at GM. Ewanick brought over another Hyundai marketer, Chris Perry.
The automaker isn't new to surprising shakeups. Late last year, to most peoples' surprise, the company asked U.S. CEO John Krafcik to leave, replacing him with David Zuchowski, who had been EVP of sales for the automaker. Krafcik now runs TrueCar, the automotive shopping site that went public in May. This year Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay out $100 million for false mileage ratings on 1.2 million vehicles. But sales remain strong this year, even with a 6% drop in November.
Shannon is a major force in raising the company's profile via big partnerships around NCAA college football that went to the regional level with marketing programs tied to the 17 college teams the automaker sponsors. Besides overseeing Super Bowl ads, he has also been on top of the RE:GENERATION Music Project pairing new artists with legends (Skrillex with The Doors, for instance), and The Hyundai Tournament of Champions PGA TOUR golf tournament among other things. Shannon oversaw another big shift this year: the replacement of Jeff Bridges as the voice of brand. Bridges, who has spoken for the brand for the past seven years was replaced by actor Paul Rudd in September.