Hyundai plans London agency

VCCP's hold on £12 million account in question as Innocean looks for senior executive in the UK.

A question-mark hangs over VCCP's future tenure of the £12 million Hyundai account with the news that the Korean carmaker's in-house agency is to launch in London.

Headhunters are understood to be searching for a senior UK agency executive with experience of working in Asia to head the operation, called Innocean, in Britain.

A spokeswoman for Hyundai UK said it was likely Innocean would open in London but would mostly handle global and pan-European work. "There is nothing to suggest we will not continue working with VCCP," she added.

However, since its launch in Delhi last year, Innocean has taken over the Hyundai account in the Indian market.

At the time of the opening of its Delhi office in December, executives predicted that Innocean would be among the top 20 global networks by the end of 2010.

Jae-Beom Park, Innocean's worldwide chief executive, said at the time: "We see ourselves as the master agency for the Hyundai brand worldwide."

Innocean's plans echo those of the Seoul-based Chiel Communications, which began as Samsung's in-house agency but is now attempting to establish itself as a global network.

VCCP was awarded Hyundai's UK account in February 2004 after it ended its ten-year relationship with Leagas Delaney.

Hyundai sold 2,200 cars in the UK last year, giving it a 1.4 per cent share of the UK market. The company is pursuing aggressive overseas expansion, and plans to begin building a new medium-range car at a factory in the Czech Republic in 2008.

Innocean's majority shareholder, Chung Seong-i, is the daughter of Hyundai's chief executive, Chung Mong-koo. He holds the remaining shares along with his son, Chung Eui-sun, the president of Hyundai's Kia Motors subsidiary.

Innocean's London office is part of expansion plans that will also see it represented in Poland, Beijing, Shanghai and Frankfurt by the end of the year.