The media review of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor – originally thought to be confined to its US operations [WAMN: 28-Nov-01] – has been broadened to its $450 million global planning and buying duties, say sources.

Hyundai’s review – which comes in spite of rising sales – is reportedly part of a bid to hand control over the account to the firm’s Korean marketing chiefs. The decision was made, says one unnamed insider, “without the knowledge or consent of [Hyundai’s] American staff. They were shocked.”

As a possible part of this power-play, the auto giant is also looking to appoint a Seoul-based executive to manage global marketing and brand strategy.

Rumour has it that the agency search came as a considerable surprise to Bates USA West in Irvine, California, which has overseen creative and media in the US since Hyundai began American operations in 1986. In addition, the Bates network handles Hyundai in over twenty other nations.

The bad news for Bates may not have finished – sources also speculated that the review could expand further to include creative.

The New York offices of three media networks are thought to be in the running: Carat USA, Horizon Media and CIA Medianetwork USA. However, Carat handles Fiat and Renault in some markets outside the US, while CIA is about to merge with The Media Edge, the media shop of Lincoln-Mercury. It is unclear whether Bates has been asked to participate.

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