- Hyundai Motor America has named Culture Brands, a minority- and female-owned company, as its African American agency of record, per a press release. The work begins this month with the launch of the 2022 Tucson and will support future models, Ioniq sub-brand launches and Hyundai's nonprofit Hope On Wheels.
- As part of a multi-year agreement, Culture Brands will develop marketing strategies, create campaigns, provide experiential and social media strategy and consult on media buying as Hyundai seeks to reach and engage African American audiences more effectively.
- The announcement comes as calls for brands and their agency partners to work towards demonstrable change regarding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) continue after intensifying last summer amid protests against racist violence.
Hyundai's selection of Culture Brands as its first African American agency of record is a sign that attention to brand and agency DEI efforts has not abated since protests against racist violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd erupted around the world nearly one year ago.
"At Hyundai, our vision is progress for humanity, and that includes making our marketing more inclusive and representative," Angela Zepeda, CMO for Hyundai Motor America, said in the press release. "We selected Culture Brands for its expertise in reaching multicultural communities in culturally relevant ways."
Culture Brands was founded in 2017 by 15-year advertising veteran Eunique Jones Gibson and names Warner Bros. and American Family Insurance among its clients. The move signals that independent agencies like Culture Brands can offer an alternative to agency holding group offerings that have bundled multicultural marketing as part of larger agreements. Hyundai is also searching for a Hispanic agency, Zepeda confirmed to Ad Age.
Major agencies and agency groups continue to make diversity — both within their organizations and in their ad strategies — a priority. IPG Mediabrands last week announced that it will invest a minimum of 5% in Black-owned media channels by 2023. Black-focused media spend in 2020 was below 2%, despite Black consumers being 13% of the population, per Nielsen Ad Intel cited by IPG. The agency group in March hosted its first-ever equity-focused upfront to increase the visibility of Black-owned and -targeted media.
Hyundai is not alone in working towards a more diverse marketing strategy and ad spend. General Motors will hold an upfront dedicated to diverse media owners on May 14, months after executives at several Black-owned media companies called out GM CEO Mary Barra with a full page ad in the Detroit Free Press.