‘Too many car brands are talking about design in boring ways’ says Hyundai’s agency head

Korean car brand Hyundai will continue to utilise high art within its global marketing programmes to stand out amid “narrow and automated” rivals, according to Glen Flaherty, chief strategy officer at Hyundai’s communications company Innocean Worldwide Europe (IWE).

Hyundai made its move into the art world last year, with the announcement of an 11-year sponsorship of London’s Tate Modern Turbine Hall.

It has also announced the long-term sponsorship of the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA), with both global venues set to explore Korean art and technology through tailored exhibitions over the coming years.

The Korean car brand, meanwhile, recently premiered a sculpture at Milan Design Week. The ‘Helio Curve’ sculpture (pictured), which was created in collaboration with artist Reuben Margolin for Milan Design Week, is currently on tour with the next stop set to be Seoul from the end of July.

Flaherty insists Hyundai’s focus on art and design is part of a long-term commitment. The brand has focused its sponsorship efforts on events such as the World Cup in the past.

“A lot of car brands are talking about art and design in a very narrow, automated and boring way,” he said.

“By putting the Hyundai brand in situations consumers wouldn’t expect, such as galleries, we want to reinforce our values as a true supporter of artists and designers, whether that’s within automotives or more widely speaking.”

Flaherty says he has been given ‘financial freedom’ from Hyundai to develop its alignment to art and design for the long-term, and that the car brand isn’t looking to ‘short-term footfall and ROI’ as measurements of success.

He says the car brand could move into becoming an investor of promising artists and designers.

“There is a real commitment to make Hyundai the first brand you think of when experiencing the best of the art and design world. We’re not thinking of hitting marketing targets in the next quarter, but looking long term with this.”

He added: “Moving forward, as we develop a body of work, there is potential to turn that into a collection, while from a CSR perspective we want to sponsor the development of art and artists globally.”

Hyundai UK is targeting 88,000 sales during 2015, representing 7% growth and following a record 2014, where the company sold 82,159 units in the UK – the first time a Korean manufacturer has exceeded 80,000.

However, things are less positive globally with Hyundai Motor’s net profit falling for a fifth consecutive quarter in the first three months of this year, with the company blaming adverse currency movements and weak demand in the US and China.

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