Kia Revs Up NBA Sponsorship

Kia Motors is back for its second season in the NBA lineup, tipping off an expansive national activation that coincides with its first year as the league’s official automotive sponsor.

The automaker’s partnership reignites today, as Kia will repeat its role as presenting sponsor of “NBA Tip-Off Week.” The return of pro basketball marks the launch of Kia’s new hoops-themed 30-second spot, which will run on ESPN and ABC, as well as digital platforms, including and

While a year ago Kia launched an experiential initiative, sponsoring an all-day block party in New York’s Union Square, this season tips off with a much more ambitious media plan. In addition to co-branding all related content on, Kia will receive prominent placement on relevant social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to its measured media play, Kia has begun running street teams in the 13 cities in which it has sponsorship deals with local NBA franchises.

Now that Kia has assumed the mantle of official NBA auto sponsor (a role Toyota had held since 2005), the company has upped its spend on ESPN/ABC. Last year, Kia spent $2.5 million on NBA telecasts, while Toyota invested some $5.47 million, per the Nielsen Co.

Kia is a long-standing partner of ESPN, having served as presenting sponsor of the network’s “NBA Shootaround” pre-game show since 2003. As part of its bolstered commitment, Kia debuted the 30 spot on ESPN Tuesday night, in advance of tonight’s doubleheader (New Orleans vs. San Antonio; Utah vs. Denver).

Backed by a techno gospel soundtrack, the new Kia spot alternates between clips of various pre-game rituals (Celtics shooting guard/small forward Paul Pierce engaging in a little air-turntablism; Lebron James playing sideline paparazzo) with glamour shots of the 2011 Kia Sorento.

While the spot will be part of ESPN’s regular rotation throughout the first few weeks of the season, Kia did not establish a specific end date for the Sorento ad. The new spot will not appear in TNT’s NBA coverage, as the Turner network has a pre-existing sponsorship deal with Kia sibling Hyundai. TNT on Tuesday night tipped off the 2009-10 NBA season with a TNT twin bill (Cleveland-Celtics; Lakers-Clippers).

Nielsen Business Media