Kia is activating more this year against its three-year-old sponsorship program with the National Basketball Association. The Irvine, Calif. U.S. sales arm for Kia, which expanded the partnership last October, had a big presence in this weekend's NBA All-Star game.
"Even though we'd been Official Automotive Partner with the NBA for a few years now, this is the first time we have been officially involved with the All-Star game," says Tim Chaney, director of marketing at Kia Motors America. "With the contract extension and renewal last year, we added this piece, which is great for us because it is in our backyard."
As a subset of its sponsorship, Kia also had title sponsorship of the Kia NBA All-Star MVP award, and the game's broadcast on TNT was also sponsored by Kia.
Chaney says the automaker ran multiple 30-second ads and had category exclusivity. Kia also had courtside signage visible to the viewing audience, onscreen graphics, voiceover mentions, and scoring graphics with a "Presented by Kia," moniker. And Kia ran a social-media program during the game's second half when the NBA started to integrate a message asking fans to vote via text or online for the game's MVP. On NBA TV, the league's own property, Kia had -- among other things -- a presenting role for a broadcast on Saturday that focused on the weekend's events.
Kia also had vehicles on the ground and a sponsorship role with the NBA Jam Session, which is being held in the Los Angeles Convention Center through Monday. "We have a big footprint there," says Chaney. "It's half vehicle display and half basketball experience, so we have all kinds of things going on there, from player appearances to basketball skills events and shooting challenges."
The automaker will also sponsor the NBA Nation Tour over the summer, a grassroots program that visits major metro markets at outdoor venues and features interactive exhibits, hoops skills tests, and player appearances.
"I would say with our leading relationship and this being the first year adding All-Star it's definitely a bigger commitment than we have had in the past," says Chaney of the automaker's 2011 activities. "This is also our first out as part of [the league's community enrichment program] NBA Cares."
Separately, Kia has sponsorship programs with 13 NBA teams. "We are trying to broaden our exposure at the community level with many of our existing partnerships, rather than just sitting on these sponsorships. We view all of this as not just about the NBA but as a great way to do local marketing," he says.
Chaney says Kia is also lining up "a major platform" for the upcoming NBA Finals this spring, called "The Kia Performance Awards."
Globally, Kia sponsors the FIFA World Cup, and the Australian Open, and motor sports. Last year Kia partnered with the LPGA for the first time with the inaugural Kia Classic, and as part of that did its first ever TV spot with golfer Michelle Wie, whom Kia sponsors.
"I do believe we will have additional ads featuring Wie as golf season gets underway," says Chaney.