Kia suits up as auto sponsor of Toronto FC, BMO Field

Enhancing its kicky image, the carco is also official auto partner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and China's national soccer teams.

Yesterday, Kia Canada signed on as official and exclusive automotive partner of Toronto FC, Canada’s only major league soccer team, which played its first match on April 28. Sponsorship for the Korean carmaker, whose Canadian HQ is in Mississauga, Ont., includes branding opportunities at BMO Field, Toronto’s new 20,000-seat soccer stadium.

National marketing manager Rick Rigby tells MiC Kia’s sponsorship deal includes not only soccer games, but all concerts and other events – at which the carco will ‘give fans an opportunity to kick the tires’ of display vehicles, and have reps on hand to ‘start a dialogue with the people who attend to try to turn them into Kia customers.’

Brand exposure associated with Kia’s sponsorship of the Toronto FC includes one-third occupancy of the soccer club’s billboard on the heavily traveled Gardiner Expressway. As well, Kia’s logo will be prominently placed on the media backdrop used during the team’s coach and player interviews.

Rigby says a detailed ad strategy is yet to be worked out, but Kia’s soccer sponsorship was heralded with a full-page insert in the Toronto Sun last week. Its support of the Toronto FC will also be highlighted in future print ads. On television, Kia has acquired automotive exclusivity on Rogers SportsNet and The Score for all Toronto FC games aired on those channels this season. These arrangements will feature what Rigby calls ‘typical brand-sell advertising plus mentions of our sponsorship.’

Publicis is Kia Canada’s AOR for creative work, while media planning and buys are handled by ZenithOptimedia. Both agencies are Toronto-based.