Kia signs Clippers' Blake Griffin to multiyear sponsorship deal
Kia Motors America and Los Angeles Clippers all-star Blake Griffin are extending their relationship, which started with the NBA player dunking over a Kia Optima sedan earlier this year, as the company announced a multiyear deal that will make Griffin a global spokesman for the automaker.
The company did not disclose the terms of the deal. But the partnership will involve Griffin appearing on advertising material, making appearances for the company and partaking in other brand events, according to a statement.
The extension increases Kia's presence in advertising and sponsorships related to the NBA, whose audience Kia described as urban and multiculturally diverse, with educated and passionate fans.
"We want to engage that passion, translate that passion, and we believe it has translated," said Tim Chaney, Kia's director of marketing communications.
Griffin's relationship with the car brand began in February when the power forward came up with the idea to jump over a car at the NBA All-Star weekend's slam-dunk contest, which was held in Los Angeles this year.
"Once I knew that Blake wanted to jump over a car, we thought that Kia was the only brand it really made sense for him to do it with since they were the NBA partner in terms of the slam-dunk contest," said Jaymee Messler, Griffin's spokeswoman.
The dunk paid off for KIA, generating buzz in social media and in sports coverage as well as instantly affecting consumer activity online and at dealerships, Chaney said.
"We saw an opportunity and had high hopes, but it greatly even exceeded our expectations," he said.
Soon after, KIA produced a commercial based on the dunk.
Griffin said he is excited to work with automobile company on an extended level.
"Kia is a company that has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, especially recently, and I am really excited to be working with them on a larger level," Griffin said in an email from his representatives.
For Griffin, the reigning NBA rookie of the year, his partnership with Kia adds to a growing list of sponsorships, among them Nike Inc. and Subway.
"Blake is just really interested in growing with partners that make sense," Messler said. "He's being strategic about the partnerships he's working with."
As for the dunk commercial, Griffin said he thought it was pretty cool.
"The first time I saw the commercial it dawned on me that this dunk was going to be remembered for a long time," he said.
-- Salvador Rodriguez
Photo: Blake Griffin dunks over a 2011 Kia Optima at the 2011 NBA All-Star weekend. Credit: Kia Motors America