Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Did You Just Click on a Fake Hyundai Ad?

The Web is the future of advertising, but we’re not there yet. And getting there will be an interesting journey. For instance, I find it hard to believe that traditional media buyers have ever had to worry about impostors buying ad space using their client’s name before.

But that’s apparently what just happened to Hyundai and Initiative, the agency that handles its digital marketing campaigns.

Here’s the text of an email sent out last week with the subject line “Hyundai–Recent Campaign Scams–PLEASE BE AWARE,” from one Tiffany Nguyen, an assistant planner in Initiative’s Los Angeles office:

Dear Partners,

It has been brought to our attention by a couple of our partners that someone allegedly working for Hyundai, or working at other agencies, has contacted various sites requesting proposals, and have even run a short campaign. As you all know, Initiative is the Agency of Record and ALL digital requests should come from our team. These campaigns and RFPs were not approved by anyone working at Hyundai, Initiative or WMG.

Please be aware of anyone contacting you from an e-mail domain address of ‘’. If you do happen to receive a request, please notify us immediately.

Thank you!

The Initiative Hyundai Digital team”

Confused? Me too. I’ve asked reps from Initiative–owned by ad conglomerate Interpublic (IPG)–and Hyundai for details, but haven’t heard back. I checked with Tiffany Nguyen as well, but she told me that her “higher ups” were the ones who should be talking to me, and I have yet to hear from them either.

So, wise MediaMemo readers, you tell me: What’s the point in actually purchasing bogus ads for companies you don’t represent? I’ve got some ideas, but would love your input. (Ditto if you’ve got any idea about who the buyer is or where the bogus ads actually ran.) Sound off in comments below, or contact me at or via the blind tip box here.

In the meantime, I’ve been looking for iconic Hyundai ads and have come up empty. But YouTube tells me that his ad was banned in France.