Kia has signed an endorsement deal with LeBron James hoping that the basketball star can help the dismal sales of the K900 sedan. But in a strange twist of events, Kia allegedly didn't approach LeBron; he liked the car so much that he asked Kia if he could have one.
ABC news reports that James will be the new ambassador for Kia's flagship sedan. Kia already is the official automotive sponsor of the NBA and has been successful at marketing its popular Optima sedan to basketball viewers.
When James won the NBA MVP award he donated the Kias he had won, but after cruising around in the K900 he asked Kia if they could give him one of his own. Of course the automaker jumped at the chance to forge a partnership.
"It was a great call to get," Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors America, told ESPN.com. "We were not actively seeking another endorser, but LeBron told us, after driving the car around this summer, that he liked it so much, that we decided to partner with him. He brought us instant credibility."
The terms of the multimillion-dollar contract over several years have not been disclosed, but Kia is confident that LeBron will give them a boost.
Kia did some due diligence before signing James. Data the company got back suggested James was in the top 1 percent of celebrity influencers in the older car-buying demographic (40-plus), which this car appeals to.
Wait a second...are you telling me that there is a sizable enough percentage of the 40+ crowd that actually determines their auto purchases based on what a celebrity is driving? Maybe I am a little cynical on the power of marketing, but not once has a customer come to me and said, "I want a car like (insert famous person here) drives."
What I will say is that having your car show up at major sporting events along with being featured on the ads can go a long way in raising awareness of the product. The majority of car buyers probably aren't even aware that Kia makes a $60,000 luxury car, not that awareness would make them want to actually own one.
If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.