Euro 2012 is hot, and soccer fans worldwide are eating it up. General Motors cashed in on the soccer wave by partnering with the Manchester United squad for an advertising campaign. Now Hyundai is following suit. According to Bloomberg, the South Korean automaker has aimed at European sports fans by partnering with Germany’s Lukas Podolski and France’s Karim Benzema.
Stepping up its European game
Hyundai is looking to chip away at the dominance of regional brands in Europe, and by using popular Euro 2012 soccer stars, the automaker believes it can score a goal.
“One of the issues we face as a brand in Europe is that we’re considered Asian and people don’t feel emotionally attached,” said Hyundai Europe’s head of marketing, Mark Hall. “Anything that connects with the region’s passions helps close that gap.”
Both Hyundai and Kia are seeking the approval of more European drivers. Sports-themed campaigns are yet another step in a series of moves to affect a thaw on the continent, from lowering prices and boosting warranty length to bringing down the cost of vehicle manufacturing.
Numbers in Hyundai’s favor
Hyundai is reportedly the only volume carmaker in the region to grow in 2012 at the expense of local brands, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Where automakers like Fiat (down 16.6 percent), PSA/Peugeot-Citroen (14.9 percent), Volkswagen (1.9 percent) and Renault (19.4 percent) sagged, Hyundai’s sales rose by 9.8 percent through May 2012. Even GM’s European brands like Opel (11.2 percent) and Ford dropped in the rankings in Europe.
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Lowering the sticker price
Price wars are nothing new in the automotive industry, noted analyst Tim Schuldt of Equinet.
“They’re benefiting from lower costs, and their cars have clearly improved in quality and technology,” he said. “The French, Opel and Ford are challenged by them the most. Now Kia and Hyundai must manage their growth, which has been a problem for many companies that expand fast.”
Price reductions are projected to carry Hyundai to great heights in Europe. A 25 percent increase in sales – up to 500,000 units – by 2013 is predicted. The ix35 crossover and i30 hatchback will no doubt play a large role in the uprising, helping Hyundai to reach 5 percent market share this year. By the July 1 conclusion of Euro 2012, Hyundai hopes that the nearly 5 billion viewers will begin to associate its brand with hard-charging success.
Lukas Podolski scores for Germany