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Kia gets set to serve up more tennis

Sponsorship smash: Kia brand ambassador and tennis world number one Rafael Nadal has his eyes – and one hand – on the prize at the Australian Open.

Australian Tennis Open sponsorship renewal likely to be announced by Kia this week

22 Jan 2018

KIA Motors appears set to announce a contract extension for one of Australia’s biggest sports sponsorships, the Australian Tennis Open, as the annual grand slam event reaches its climax for 2018 this week.

The current five-year contract – reportedly worth $50 million when it was announced in 2013 – is up this year, but the South Korean car-maker’s enthusiasm for the Melbourne event appears not have dimmed after 16 years.

Another five-year contract would take the sponsorship to 21 years in 2023, by far the longest such stretch for both Kia globally and for the Australian Open.

One of Kia’s other major Australian sporting sponsorship deals, with Australian Football League club Essendon, is also up this year, and while a decision is believed to have been discussed, an announcement is unlikely to be made until later in the 2018 season.

Kia’s current contract with the Melbourne-based Bombers was signed in 2012, just before news of the infamous supplements scandal broke, devastating the club’s premiership chances and delivering several years of bad-news headlines as many of its players and its coach were suspended for 12 months in 2016.

Kia stuck with the deal through the lows, but has had to decide if it will try to ride the recovery.

Unlike the Essendon sponsorship – a so-called co-major sponsor deal that also involves Fujitsu – the Australian Open sponsorship is a global affair largely funded out of Kia head office in Korea.

As part of its contribution, Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) supplies a fleet of 130 vehicles to ferry players and officials around Melbourne every year.

The vehicles driven by volunteers are said to make 20,000 trips each Open, covering about 335,000km.

Speaking to motoring journalists at the Australian Open at the weekend, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the sponsorship was incredibly important to his company and dealer network.

“It is a huge event – probably one of the biggest sporting events in the world,” he said. “It does help us get out of the blocks quickly for the year.

“The market share is always a little bit stronger than what we attain for the rest of the year.”

With words of enthusiasm like that, it is not hard to believe that Mr Meredith will announce another five-year deal when he speaks at the men’s singles final trophy presentation on Sunday.

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