Hyundai Woos Younger Demo with Mobile Campaign

Hyundai, a car manufacturer long known primarily for its affordable cars, is trying to remake its image while reaching out to a younger demographic on their mobile handsets.

Hyundai decided to market via mobile devices after it realized it was faced with a twin dilemma. According to its research, 40 percent of the population is unaware of the Hyundai make or its models, and those who do know it are generally older and associate the brand with the 1986 to 1994 Excel. As the car was cheaper and had fewer features than many others in the market, “There is a whole generation that isn’t going to go back to that car,” said Eric D’Ablaing, interactive marketing administrator for Hyundai. “Those people are going to be difficult to revert back to the brand.”

As such, Hyundai decided instead to target the 18- to 34-year-old bracket and assure new drivers Hyundai is a viable brand that’s competing effectively against Toyota and Honda. It determined mobile advertising was a good way to reach them, since younger generations are most likely to be “using their phones for more than a phone call,” D’Ablaing said.

Hyundai worked with agency of record Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and mobile firm Enpocket to create a two-pronged campaign for mobile devices. In addition to running mobile banner ads and hosting a Hyundai Veracruz mobile Web site, the company is also plugging mobile communications into other ad mediums. For instance, the company is promoting its Hyundai Elantra by offering MySpace users free ringtones from recording artists like The Ataris and Secondhand Serenade. It also ran a sponsored text-to-vote campaign incorporating print media and billboards during the South by Southwest music and arts festival in Austin, Texas last March. Hyundai is also in talks with Reuters to integrate mobile functions into a billboard placement on the news service’s digital sign in Times Square.

The company is running mobile banner ads on the Sprint Mobile Media Network, and says its campaign promoting the Elantra has scored a nine percent click-through rate on mobile media across a variety of properties since launching in March. Hyundai plans to include more models in its mobile marketing program later this year.

“We’re just trying to change the perception of where Hyundai is — that we are not just a cheap brand. We add value to your life,” said D’Ablaing.

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