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Kia signs record football sponsorship

Runaway success: Kia believes it has synergy with the Essendon Bombers, as both are brands "on the way up".

AFL Bombers win multi-million sponsor support from new recruit Kia

Kia logo14 Oct 2011


KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has signed one of the biggest sponsorship deals in Australian sport, outlaying a figure believed to be more than $10 million over five years to hook up with Australian Football League powerhouse Essendon Bombers.

The partnership with “the red and black” is believed to be bigger than Ford’s similar deal with reigning premier Geelong Cats, with whom it recently locked in a five-year extension of its major sponsor arrangement – the longest-running continuous sports sponsorship in the world at 86 years to date.

Kia already has one of the highest-profile sports sponsorships in Australia, as a major partner of the annual Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne.

The fast-growing Korean importer joins a long list of car companies to throw their hats into the AFL ring, with Toyota backing the Adelaide Crows and West Coast Eagles – as well as sponsoring the AFL premiership season – Hyundai supporting both Carlton and the Brisbane Lions, Mazda with North Melbourne, Volkswagen the Sydney Swans, Jeep with Richmond and UD Trucks with St Kilda.

Kia will share the Essendon major sponsorship with current sponsor Tru Value Solar – a solar panel installation company – replacing Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung.

 center imageLeft: KMAu president and CEO MK Kim. Below: KMAu chief operating officer Tony Barlow.

The deal means the Kia logo will alternate with the Tru Value logo on the front and back of the Essendon guernsey, week about, from next season.

As well, Kia will get access to Essendon’s estimated supporter base of more than a million fans nationally and almost 300,000 unique database contacts – the largest in Australian club sport.

Based in Melbourne’s northwest, Essendon has one of the biggest supporter bases in the AFL, with 50,000 paid-up members in 2011, and is regarded as one of the most successful clubs in the league, sharing the record for the most number of premierships (16) with Carlton.

Founded in the 1870s and foundation member of the Victorian Football League (the forerunner to the AFL) in 1896, the Bombers are regarded as one of the most savvy clubs off the field, with a strong business sense.

KMAu president and CEO MK Kim said the partnership would allow Kia to grow its reputation as a long-standing innovative brand.

“Like Essendon Football Club, Kia is a brand built around youthful excitement and the willingness to compete,” he said.

“As Korea’s oldest automotive manufacturer we understand the value of history and we are excited about our new relationship with one of the longest-standing teams in Australian sport.”

KMAu chief operating officer Tony Barlow said Kia and the Bombers had synergy, as both were brands “on the way up”.

“We believe makes this relationship a perfect match,” he said.

The Bombers finished a lowly 14th under coach Mathew Knights in 2010, but climbed into the final eight last year under new coach and former Bombers playing hero, James Hird.

Kia sales have grown 4.6 per cent this year, in a market down 3.7 per cent.

Armed with stylish new products based on platforms drawn from parent company Hyundai, Kia has edged into the top 10 players in the industry in recent months.

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