The Kia Optima is a mid-size, four-door sedan, but it can apparently carry the weight of a whole lot of young, soon-to-be NBA players.
As the official automotive partner of the NBA, Kia is not just a sponsor but a “presenting partner” at the 2011 NBA Draft, taking place tomorrow at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
NBA rookie of the year Blake Griffin, whose slo-mo car-hopping dunk (above) has been a viral hit for the automaker since it was released in February, was today named the brand's official pitchman.
As quoted in USA Today, "Kia's U.S. marketing's chief, Michael Sprague, says that Griffin is youthful, hardworking and 'represents the future of the NBA.' Just as Griffin is being recognized as a rising star, Sprague says he hopes Kia, the smaller sister brand to South Korea's Hyundai, is seen the same way."
While the NBA deal is a big endorsement for the young LA Clipper forward, the NBA draft deal is a bid deal for the young automotive brand, as it attaches the Kia brand name to every part of the draft, its telecast, and its coverage on NBA.com, according to Mediapost.
The South Korean automaker has been a sponsor for the league itself and 13 individual teams and has been a sponsor of previous drafts, but this year’s participation, in the words of the immortal Spinal Tap, has been turned up to 11.
"The major difference is [that] in every instance the NBA promotes the Kia message,” said Tim Chaney, director of marketing communications at Kia Motors America. “Before that, we carved out a sponsorship presence," he says. "We will be part of the message as well; we have an expanded presence in all the pieces of the event."
For example, Kia “will get product and brand placement around the arena and stage in Newark during the live coverage on ESPN, and on NBA TV and NBA.com,” Mediapost reports. Plus, “Kia's involvement includes presentation of two NBA Cares Community Caravan events in Newark and New York City before the draft.”
And that’s not all! “Kia will have two vehicle displays outside the Prudential Center featuring co-branded signage and brand ambassadors, one of which will host an appearance by an NBA legend prior to the event,” Mediapost notes. And the company will also have a “green screen” on the concourse where fans can get their pictures taken as if they are being drafted.
The NBA and Kia have cooked up plenty of other ways to get the company’s in front of anyone who is interested in the draft, including the “branding behind-the-scenes footage, draftee video journals, exclusive interviews with draftees, and blogs written by NBA.com editors,” among other things, Mediapost adds.