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Kia "Loves" Austrailian Open - Its Everywhere!


Major Sponsor of Australian Open

by Marty Bernstein
AIADA Contributing Editor

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Kia is the number one automotive sponsor of international tennis tournaments and championships for both men and women. For the 9th year in a row it is the major sponsor and official supplier of motor vehicles to the first tennis grand slam of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. The brand’s contract runs through the 2013 tournament.

This major international event now underway that is getting round the clock televised coverage in the U.S. by ESPN and the Tennis Channel; throughout other nations in Asia, Europe, Central and South America cable networks are providing with daily play by play coverage from start till finish. There’s a vast Internet streaming for tennis fans also.

As part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Kia aspirations simple: become one of the world's premier automotive brands. From a pure marketing standpoint, only the Hyundai brand is able to equal Kia’s network of distributors and dealers in 172 nations. Adding to the impact are the 1.5 million vehicles a year produced in 13 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries.

That is why the Kia brand is focused on international events with wide appeal such as tennis and the upcoming World Cup. It is taking tennis, a popular nationalistic sport directly to the nations, many of whom are the homes professional tennis players. It’s international marketing to the ultimate.

As the major sponsor of the Australian Open – both men’s and women’s singles, a first -- gets a plethora (a great Howard Cossel word) of promotional goodies including:

  • Singage – back courts, ball guard, side court, nets in all matches
  • Ads in official program
  • Car displays and on-site promotions
  • Logo on official merchandise
  • Major webpage use of the Australian Open theme
  • Flags and banners throughout the venue
  • Special fan events everyday
  • Live presentation of winner’s checks on TV

And probably equally important are the obvious Kia logos on every televised broadcast of any match or game. To use the word ubiquitous is understatement.

Then of course are the televised games. During the 2009 championship 6,075 hours (yes, hours) of matches was televised, broadcast and streamed worldwide. Opening and closing Kia billboards from the World Feed by Tennis Australia are part of the package too as are the prize money presentations to the winning players by a Kia executive.

Now for some amazing numbers: The Kia logo and logos were seen 4,192 of those hours last year with a media value in US $ of $524,125 million. That’s really big. Bigger than Wimbledon’s tennis coverage. Media mavens I spoke to said this year could be even bigger in terms of dollar value.

Kia also supplies over 100 courtesy vehicles to players and officials during the event using 70 Grand Carnival, 20 Sorento, 5 Cerato, 5 Soul and 1 K2900 whatever that is.

Adding to the presence of Kia is the company’s official ambassador, Rafael Nadel, last year’s men’s singles champion. This young professional and Grand Slam winner is an international fan favorite and currently ranked Number 2 in the world.

Supporting the Australian Open is a global marketing test drive program launched last year in 16 nations including Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, Chile, Argentina, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordon, Morocco, Iran, Singapore and New Zealand.

Kia also sponsors the Kia Amateur Australian Open a series of men and women’s singles and mixed doubles events in the nations mentioned above. Almost 20,000 teams participated.

Internationally, until last year Mercedes-Benz was the sponsor the Masters Series, a group of events with big prize money leading to a major final tournament of the year. Recently Mercedes-Benz USA became the sponsor of men’s singles at the U.S. Open (replacing Lexus who replaced Lincoln) but that is the total of automobile sponsors of tennis, one of the fastest growing sports in the world. In the U.S. the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association notes 27 million men, women and children play tennis. The U.S. Open is the biggest sports spectators’ event.

But tennis isn’t the only game of choice for worldwide sports fans. When the FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest fan sport, starts next summer in South Africa, both Kia and Hyundai share the sponsors’ title designation. Stay tuned for more about this.

Opening day highlights featuring Nadal: