Hyundai Motor America has named Chris Perry, a 10-year company veteran, as its new chief marketer after his predecessor, Joel Ewanick, left for the top marketing post at rival Nissan.
Perry, most recently marketing communications director at Hyundai, had served in an acting vp, marketing role since Ewanick — Brandweek’s Grand Marketer of the Year for 2009 — left the company for Nissan in March. Less than two months after joining Nissan, however, Ewanick — whose three-year tenure at Hyundai included the creation of market share and sales-increasing programs like “Assurance,” rolled out during Super Bowl — jumped ship for domestic automaker General Motors. (He’ll replace Susan Doherty, who currently holds the job, though she’ll be moving to another as yet unnamed post, GM said last week.)
Perry, who joined Hyundai in May 2000 after stints in strategic planning and advertising at Japanese car company Isuzu, as well as marketing roles at ad agency Della Femina McNamee, will report directly to John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai.
Inside Hyundai, Perry is known for his “rare combination of consumer focus, creativity and teamwork,” Krafcik said in a statement. “During his ten years at Hyundai, Chris has moved from doing great brand planning and positioning work to delivering our ‘big voices in big places’ media strategy and groundbreaking creative, all while building strong relationships with his agencies and colleagues. Nobody knows the Hyundai brand and our target customer better than Chris Perry, and no one is better equipped to take this growing brand to the next level.”
Ewanick and Perry worked closely together, and the move leaves some wondering how much of the former’s strategies will continue to remain in place following the transition. Hyundai, for instance, touted value and consumer-centric programs like Assurance in the midst of a recession last year. In a a March Q&A with Brandweek, Perry said those would still be core focuses going forward, though much of Hyundai’s 2010 marketing plans will center on “new innovation,” he said during an interview at the Times Square W Hotel last March.
“In 2010, we will focus a lot on our new products,” he said at the time, citing the launch of two new Sonatas at the New York International Auto Show.
With consumer confidence rebounding and automakers pooling more ad dollars into marketing, Americans will be buying more cars again. And Hyundai is “no longer the cheapest option.”
“If we are going head-to-head against [another brand], more often than not, we’re going to win because of our quality, style, performance and value,” Perry said during that interview.
Hyundai spent $255 million in U.S. advertising last year, a drop of 20.6 percent from its 2008 figure of $321 million, per Nielsen. The data does not include online spending.