Kia is evolving its AO strategy – Dean Norbiato tells us why

Kia has this year returned to the Australian Open (AO) for a 23rd year, though it’s strategy looks a little different than previous years.

General manager of marking, Dean Norbiato, told Mumbrella the AO partnership has evolved significantly since Damien Meredith joined Kia Australia as chief operating officer in 2014, having since been promoted to CEO.

Dean Norbiato, general manager, marketing, Kia

“From 2015 onwards we’ve used [the Australian Open] as a really good marketing platform to launch new vehicles, build the Kia brand and leverage the positive premium brand associations with tennis in the Australian market,” he explained. “Since that change, we’ve increased the partnership at length.”

Now at the start of another five year agreement with Tennis Australia, Norbiato said Kia would remain “in lockstep” with the Australian Open as its major partner for the foreseeable future.

Notably however, the automotive brand will not appear as the Nine’s major sponsor of the AO coverage this year. It’s a shift in strategy that Norbiato asserts is not a reflection of a falter in Kia’s commitment to its partnership with the event.

“What we’re doing is diversifying a partnership,” said Norbiato. “Compared to previous years, we are catering more to inter-regional markets.”

“In terms of our level of investment and exposure, we’re effectively looking to broaden that reach outside of major metro and into regional, so it’s just been a strategic decision as we don’t have an infinite amount of money.”

Fronting this year’s on-ground activations is a partnership with car-share business Uber that will see a fleet of 30 Kia electric vehicles (EV) offer complimentary Uber rides to AO punters within a 5km radius of Melbourne Park.

“As a business we have globally we’re aligned about Plan Air strategy, which has a number of different streams from product to fuel to environment,” said Norbiato. This activation, he said, responds to consumer’s apprehension to “even stepping into an EV”.

The ‘Kia Kinetic’ activation is showcasing Kia’s EV9 at Melbourne Park’s Grand Slam Oval

“We want to provide an incentive. A  trip to the tennis with the potential surprise and delight and ticket upgrade whilst you’re you’re traveling in that car, to get you to experience firsthand what an electric car is like from a performance standpoint.”

“We’re launching our new EV9, which is our seven seat full electric EV and that’s going to be spearheading that Uber fleet. So we can’t wait to see thousands of Australians hopefully getting rides to the tennis, experiencing a world class sporting event in what we feel is a world class seven seat electric vehicle.”

The EV9 will also be showcased at the ‘Kia Kinetic’ exhibit at Melbourne Park’s Grand Slam Oval.

Kia last year consolidated its media account with Advertising Associates, after the independent agency beat out incumbent Havas Media Network in a competitive pitch for the brand’s above the line media account.

The appointment added to Advertising Associates existing remit with Kia’s digital media account, with the combined media billings understood to be in the realm of $30 million.


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