By on August 20, 2010

Hyundai’s most famous superbowl ad may have imagined executives at Lexus and BMW getting steamed at the success of the Genesis, but that’s not necessarily where the upstart Korean brand is making the biggest impression on competitors. In fact, it’s Hyundai’s ability to market value so successfully, even in the premium space, that’s got the other automakers steamed. But instead of getting mad at Hyundai’s building momentum and reputation, GM’s getting even. Having already poached away former Hyundai marketing boss (and the man behind this ad) Joel Ewanick to lead GM’s entire marketing effort, GM just snagged Ewanick’s replacement as VP Marketing at Hyundai, Chris Perry, to head up Chevrolet marketing [via Automotive News [sub]. That’s right, two VP’s of marketing from the same upstart Korean brand, both poached away by GM… You think The General might be looking for people who can tell the momentum-turnaround, finally-getting-some-respect-around-here storyline?

The problem is that Hyundai has largely overcome its image issues already, mostly on the strength of its new products and its ability to market their undeniable improvement. But Chevrolet marketing needs a shot in the arm because it has products that are as good as Hyundai’s, but none of the sense of improvement or momentum. Revitalizing a once-dominant domestic brand is a lot harder than telling the quality-improvement story of a once-reviled Korean value brand. Hiring Hyundai’s entire marketing staff is no silver bullet for the General, and seems to indicate a certain amount of paint-by-the-numbers mentality among GM’s top executives.

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11 Comments on “Chevrolet Tries To Catch “That Hyundai Feeling”...”

  • avatar

    Hyundai’s jumpstart was undoubtedly spurred by their massive, industry-leading (and altogether surprising) 10 year warranty. I don’t see GM getting on that bandwagon any time soon. And for that reason alone, they will go nowhere.

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised both Ewanick and Perry left Hyundai…their work there is essentially done and the challenges these guys face mending Chevy’s rigging and sails will be far more stimulating than keeping Hyundai steady-as-she-goes. I look forward to seeing what they come up with for Chevy.

  • avatar

    So they have to hire Hyundai marketing execs for this? Duh. No one at Chevy can figure out that it just needs to offer the great value and extensive warranty that Hyundai does.

  • avatar

    Perry was probably the guy who did all of Ewanick’s work, so he brought him over as soon as he could. That happens a lot.

  • avatar

    While mjz’s point certainly hits the nail on the head, another issue is smart marketing executives need smart senior executives to leave them alone and allow them to do their stuff. What are the odds of that happening?

  • avatar
    George B

    Like mjz said, GM could start by matching the Hyundai 10 year drivetrain warranty. GM is relatively strong in engines and transmissions so they should be able to make their product meet Hyundai’s long but rather limited terms. Start with the low volume brands Cadillac and Buick and later expand to Chevrolet if the extra cost to GM is reasonable.

  • avatar

    I doubt that GM’s products are as good as Hyundai/Kia. I’ll never forget the Cobalt and similar small car failures. As long as GM will not match Hyundai/Kia feature for feature and warranty for warranty, they’ll stay in the bar-ditch, IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      GM needs to do more than match H/K; they need to exceed them by a wide margin since their perception gap is so wide.

      As other have said, real actual improvement, accompanied by a great warranty, would help. GM also has to lower its prices and reduce incentives.

      Alas, I doubt the new GM corporate culture will really permit such changes to happen.

  • avatar

    Those Hyundai marketing execs did a good job of communicating to the public that Hyundais are good vehicles. The basis for the marketing success was the product though. GM’s “buy American” strategy was pretty decent, since the basis in product quality lacks.
    Therefore, GM could have saved the money to get these Hyundai execs.

  • avatar

    Ed – You hit the nail on the head regarding Hyundai’s image vs. GMs. Hyundai’s image had nowhere to go but up, and to many in the US, Hyundai is an unknown entity. People knew Hyundai as the company that made cheap cars, but with a tiny market share in the past, not many have owned Hyundais compared to GM vehicles, and consequently not as many people have had bad experiences.

    GM not only has to get the improved quality message out, they have to convince people to give them a second or third chance, which is a lot harder than Hyundai’s job of getting people to give them their first chance.

    That being said, GM does have some good commercials and marketing ideas. Their Traverse commercial putting it right up against the Pilot and Highlander and showing why it is better is exactly what they should be doing. Don’t worry about image or nebulous concepts like brand identity, put your product on the screen against the competitors you want to take sales from, and show people in no uncertain terms what makes your product better.

    • 0 avatar

      As much as Consumer Reports is derided around here, most vehicles that carry their “recommended” rating are a good bet. Funny, but only a few GM cars (ignoring trucks) qualify at this point, but there are many that can make the jump in the next couple of years if their reliability holds up. Screw the J.D. Power crap, people want their cars to last 150k these days, and not spend too much time in the shop.

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