SANTA MONICA—Korean automaker Hyundai has selected Ketchum as its agency of record following a three-way pitch that included BSMG Worldwide and San Diego-based Stoorza Communications. Ketchum replaces Paine Communications, which earlier this year resigned the Hyundai account to work for the automotive division of longtime client Suzuki.

Ketchum will round out a roster of agencies serving Hyundai in various regions. The company uses John Bailey & Associates in the Midwest, IAC Group of Miami for the south and Hispanic marketing, and the Hyundai Eastern News Bureau—an outside firm created specifically to handle Hyundai—in the eastern region. Ketchum will handle western region public relations and several national assignments. Its portion of the Hyundai business is believed to be worth between $750,000 and $1 million.

Hyundai vice president of corporate communications Chris Hosford says Ketchum will handle both corporate and product assignments. “There will be much more corporate work than there has been with previous agencies,” he says, as Hyundai strives to build on sales growth of about 160 percent over the past two years by strengthening its corporate brand.

“Sales have risen dramatically, but we feel our brand is still quite fragile,” Hosford says. “Trying to strengthen the brand is critical as more and more people discover us.”
Ketchum account supervisor Brad Jamison says the firm will conduct targeted consumer, automotive enthusiast and trade media relations; create and leverage dealer programs; develop and implement influencer programs; and provide strategic counsel on issues-related matters.