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Hyundai names former GM exec Shannon as U.S. marketing boss

Thu, 07 Apr 2011

Hyundai has tapped a General Motors veteran as its new U.S. marketing chief, filling a spot that has sat empty for more than seven months.

Steve Shannon was named vice president of marketing for Hyundai Motor America on Wednesday and will officially take his position on April 18, Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford said.

Shannon, 52, spent more than 25 years at GM and was most recently executive director of marketing for Cadillac. He held that position from 2008 until March 2010 when he was cut in one of several executive shakeups under former CEO Ed Whitacre.

Shannon takes over a marketing department that has overseen memorable campaigns recently, including the Hyundai Assurance campaign that let Hyundai buyers get their money back if they lost their job and the "Hyundai: Uncensored" campaign that captured reactions of consumers impressed by the quality of Hyundai vehicles during test drives.

Hyundai marketers also signed Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges to do voice-overs for all of Hyundai's television ads.

Clever marketing has helped Hyundai boost sales from about 401,000 units in 2008 to more than 538,000 last year and increase U.S. market share from 3 percent to 4.6 percent in the same period.

Shannon's hiring comes after GM nabbed Hyundai's two previous marketing chiefs last year.

First to go was Joel Ewanick, the high-energy marketing executive and brainchild behind the Hyundai Assurance campaign. Ewanick left Hyundai for a brief stint at Nissan last March before being tapped to head GM's U.S. marking department in May. Ewanick's successor at Hyundai, Chris Perry, was then hired by Ewanick last August to lead Chevrolet's marketing department.

Shannon's resume includes leadership roles in marketing with Saturn, followed by senior posts at Oldsmobile, Buick, Saab, Hummer and most recently Cadillac.

Hyundai CEO John Krafcik said in a statement that he's "delighted" to have Shannon on board.

"He's a marketing innovator with strong convictions about serving the customer," Krafcik said in the statement. "At the same time, he's personable, enthusiastic and professional -- a perfect fit for us at Hyundai."

By Ryan Beene- Automotive News