It seemed like a match made in heaven, but poor sales figures—despite a big increase in media spend—appear to be the major driver behind Hyundai's decision to say goodbye to its agency Assignment Group.
Assignment Group, as per usual, weren't talking about the split. And Hyundai's marketing manager Darren Kirkland was unable to be contacted (he and the rest of the marketing team are at the pro longboard tour in Sandy Bay, which Hyundai sponsors). But he told the NBR it was "a mutual decision to change direction".
No official word on the reasons behind it or whether there would be a pitch. But recent stats from the AA show that Hyundai's share of new car sales in December 2010 decreased to 7.3 percent, which is down from 11.9 percent in December 2009. For the year to December 2010, Hyundai sold 5241 new cars for 8.45 percent share, which was up from 4652 the year before (but because of lower overall car sales, this was an 8.55 percent share).
Nielsen ad spend figures, which are based on rate card values and don't take into account discounts, show that Hyundai spent $8,135,000 between Jan-Dec 2010, the vast majority of which was on TV. This is a 73 percent increase on 2009's spend, so, given that increase, a decrease in sales certainly isn't ideal.
While most of Hyundai's TV ads are pretty good (must be Miranda Harcourt's sultry voiceovers and that slow clap), there was a rare—and particularly cringeworthy—misfire towards the end of last year with an ad that featured a Hyundai staff member in Korea following her beloved car all the way to New Zealand.
Or, maybe they'd just had enough of CGI children driving irresponsibly.
When asked for his predictions on the year ahead, he offered the NBR what is surely one of the best quotes of the year: “I think we’ll start off with a summer, move into an autumn and have a winter in the middle of the year. That’ll shift into a spring, a bit crazy I know, and then ultimately a summer again. Amazing, these things seem to repeat themselves year after year.”