Hyundai was awarded this year's top U.S. marketer in an annual poll of readers by Automotive News sister publication Advertising Age. The votes that came in at AdAge.com had Hyundai leading with 40% of readers selecting it. Trailing the carmaker were Wal-Mart (30%), McDonald's (14%), Lego (10%) and Amazon (7%).
Hyundai was given the accolade when it was first noticed to have made a bold stroke in the midst of the recession at the beginning of the year.
At the Super Bowl last February, the situation was alarming with unemployment surging towards 8% from the previous year's 4.8% and the stimulus package had yet to be announced.
Escapism appeared to be the order of the day as most advertisers offered visions that contrasted with the bleak reality. Hyundai's ad came in at the third quarter and it looked to be an otherwise standard-issue cars-rolling-through-landscape spot but then the voice-over said, "Now finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if you lose your income in the next year, you can return it with no impact on your credit."
Keep in mind that Hyundai wasn't an automaker known for fearless marketing. Instead of bowing out, Hyundai began a frontal assault on a recession that was drowning consumer enthusiasm.
Hyundai's Assurance program made quite an impression but it didn't stop there. Hyundai also took an upmarket route to push the Genesis, its entry into the premium-car market that was promoted during the Super Bowl as well as the Academy Awards where it got nine spots.
According to the Advertising Age, Hyundai engaged "both the broken dreams and the intact ones through high-profile ad buys that garnered plenty of positive press."
The publication added, "Hyundai stood in sharp contrast to the tail-between-the-legs mode of its rivals, many of which had slashed budgets and retreated into retail-focused advertising."