April 30-May 1, 2007  |  Newport Beach, CA
Published: May 01, 2007
Getting the Most out of Integration

At iMedia's Driving Interactive Summit in Newport Beach, Calif., Hyundai Motors America's Joel Ewanick outlines the company's efforts to raise brand perception and weave integrated touchpoints throughout its campaigns.

One of the ongoing challenges in building and evolving a brand is developing outreach and awareness programs that integrate various media to help inform and persuade in-market auto consumers.

The Hyundai automotive brand has recognized this challenge and refocused its recent marketing platform to impact the long-term decision-making process as quickly as it can through integrated communication strategies. And how does Joel Ewanick, VP of marketing for Hyundai Motors America, think the process should be started?

"We should be moving to online first, then TV," he said.

Making this necessary change is a lot easier said than done because it is difficult to get people to think differently. Yet it can be done. Ewanick advises the industry to start small by focusing on key communication issues: making all the touchpoints relevant and the messages consistent across all media.

"This is a huge challenge for us," Ewanick said. "In 1960 you could reach 80 percent of America with three ads. Today it takes more than 80 ads to get the same reach."

How can marketing affect brand perception?
In the past, the Hyundai brand was synonymous with cheap, poor quality econo-boxes. However, over a period of 30 months, the company went though a complete transformation of its lineup. The result is that Hyundai is slowly eroding how people feel about the company and its products. Among all name plates, Hyundai recently ranked third in IQS (initial quality) and is the highest-ranking non-luxury brand. But people's perception of the brand has not kept pace with the significant product improvements, creating a sizeable gap between perceived and actual quality. Closing that gap and convincing people to put Hyundai on their consideration list is now the company's next marketing challenge.

In striving to address these issues, Ewanick pointed out something that plays in his company's favor: people feel smart for buying Hyundai. Thus, the company made the idea of "smart" the foundation of recent communication efforts, outlining three pillars upon which it has based its image upgrade plans: 

  1. Edutainment, which is being accomplished through the development of experiential marketing ideas.
  2. Smart living.
  3. Advancing the greater good; customers like to feel they are giving back to society (charity, recycling, et cetera).

Achieving integration
As part of Hyundai's marketing initiative, the company also aimed to weave these communication touchpoints together seamlessly -- in look, feel and messaging -- so that they work in concert toward satisfying the overall objectives of the communication plan. This requires some additional advance planning to coordinate interactive, events, promotions and traditional media. 

Ewanick then shared three of his key philosophies to help brands achieve optimal integration in any of their communication efforts:

  • Notice it. Take a look at what is being done in the space; read the trades; go to events; collect examples.
  • Enable it. Demand it of your media partners and hold them accountable for actively participating.
  • Mandate it. Define integration on your own terms, create a culture that embraces the sharing of knowledge, define a process, incentivize and remove barriers.

Upgrading the upfronts
Ewanick also offered some tips for approaching upfronts:

  • Focus on communication objectives, not budget.
  • Look for big ideas, not an aggregation of media.
  • Integrate sales teams under one RFP.
  • Originate with either digital or traditional.
  • Remember that content is king.
  • Amplify your buys with non-network properties.

Lastly, Ewanick addressed some questions from the Summit audience, including one from Cynthia Jensen, VP of media operations at WMG (media managers for Hyundai), who commented that, "TV networks are still producing content we want access to; it's highly competitive, and with highly paid (actors and producers), there is much more interest in the content. How are you going to give us access to [online] content that will compete with what is on TV?"

"We say we want to make the internet more important to us, but we always come back to TV," Ewanick said. "We need to change the paradigm to find out where it makes sense to integrate and get people to think about the mix and how to create it."

Jodi Harris is managing editor of iMedia Connection's Driving Interactive. Read full bio.