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Kia Ready For Next Product Blitz

Smaller of Korean makers also studying possible 2nd US plant.

by on Sep.05, 2012

The 2014 Kia Forte will make its debut at the LA Auto Show in November.

The once very unhip Kia brand has undergone a massive makeover in recent years, thanks to a trio of hip-hop “hamstars,” a rock star of a design chief – and a blitz of new products.

The new model assault is set to continue, Kia officials reveal, at the upcoming Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows.  And to feed the growing demand for those and existing products like the Optima and Soul, Kia management is now studying the option of expanding its North American production base – a move that might include the addition of a second U.S. assembly plant.

Kia is now the fastest-growing brand in the U.S. market, noted Kia Motors America sales chief Tom Loveless, with a 78% sales surge since 2008 surpassing even Korean sibling Hyundai, as well as fast-track brands like Volkswagen and Subaru.

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After setting a 2011 sales record of 485,000 – and breaking its all-time monthly records for 24 consecutive months – Kia expects to reach another new peak this year, market share climbing to an all-time high 4.0, “if we can maintain this pace,” said Loveless, during a presentation to the Detroit Automotive Press Association.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia: NBA Edition

Kia scores triple double with NBA sponsorship.

by on Dec.30, 2011

Kia is betting big on the resumption of play at the NBA.

After a three month lockout delay the National Basketball Association finally returned to the boards, tipping off on Christmas day with five season-opening games broadcast on three television cable networks. Millions watched as millionaires played hoops – with major sponsors, like Kia Motors America, betting heavily that the fans would tune back in.

Kia has bet heavily on the hoop hoopla. It may be the fourth ranking NBA advertiser behind T-Mobile, Taco Bell and Warner Bros-Pictures but Kia it is the biggest automobile advertiser in the game. Kantar Media noted that last year the brands expenditures were in the $17 million neighborhood, a number Sprague did not dispute.

The Final Word!

The maker’s vice president of marketing and communications Michael Sprague telling me in an interview last week that, “The shortened season (66 games, rather than the usual 82) has not diminished the fans or their interest in the game, its players, the opportunities and sponsorships.”


Kia Betting Big on Motor Sports

Maker sees motor sports, basketball, golf as ways to shift its econobox image.

by on Mar.10, 2011

Kia has had some relatively good luck since launching its motor sports effort two years ago.

Kia and motorsports? The idea might have seemed ludicrous just a few years ago considering the Korean carmaker’s econobox image.  But as it prepared to launch of new products, such as the all-new Optima, the maker took a bet that that tearing up the track might be a way to grab the attention of consumers that barely knew Kia even existed.

Launched in 2009, the so-far successful effort seems to be having a significant impact on Kia’s brand perception, company officials claim.

When Kia decided to launch a major racing program, in 2009, it had never been part of any motorsports.

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“This is a company that had never gone racing anywhere in the world,” noted Russell Smith of Kinetic Motorsports, the Atlanta-based racing team Kia sought out to help build a motorsports racing team.

Given the company’s history and lack of experience, he was puzzled and a bit skeptical when he was first approached by Kia’s representatives, Smith added.  But after speaking to Kia officials, he decided the company was serious and also understood the risks since it could wind up competing with companies such as BMW and Honda with decades of experience in motorsports.