Go to contents

Kia Motors hits advertising jackpot by sponsoring gold medalist

Kia Motors hits advertising jackpot by sponsoring gold medalist

Posted February. 28, 2014 00:53,   


Korean speed skater Lee Sang-hwa who is nicknamed the "Empress on Ice” is taking her position on start line with a determined face. The logo of Kia Motors is clear printed on the forehead, chest and sturdy thighs of her uniform. In the bottom is a brand-new K5 speeding on a road. The advertisement features the copy of “Lee Sang-hwa, the honorary ambassador of Kia Motors and gold medalist in 500m speed skating.” On Thursday, Kia Motors placed this advertisement featuring Lee in Korea’s major daily newspapers. Behind this is a great marketing strategy.

Though the automaker has sponsored Lee since 2005, it is not an official partner of the Winter Olympic Games. Non-partners are not allowed to use any image that reminds people of the Olympics as well as the images of athletes from nine days before the event opening to its closing.

Because of the regulation, Kia Motors had to run an alternative advertisement that only features Lee’s callused feet from Jan 30 to Feb. 11, the day when Lee competed in the women’s 500m in the Sochi Winter Olympics. In the advertisement, a model walks on the ice in bare feet, puts on skate shoes and slides on the ice. The scene shifts to K5 speeding on the snow. The model was not Lee, but the advertising copy of “500m is where I would be to put my all” reminds people of Lee.

Thanks to Lee’s back-to-back victory in the Olympics, Kia Motors has hit the jackpot in advertisement. The company estimates that the Winter Olympics has generated over 15 billion won worth of advertising effect for Kia Motors.

Such achievement is attributed not just to the clever advertisement but also to the company’s long-term strategy of sponsoring speed skating. Being aware that “speed” is what automobiles and speed staking have in common, and it has sponsored over 200 speed skaters in and outside Korea since 2003. If any of them wins the Olympics or the World Championships like Lee did, Kia Motors will enjoy the benefits again. If a foreign athlete wins, the company can conduct marketing activities in the athlete’s home country.