SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If you're a sports fan, you're probably seeing a lot more TV advertising from Kia these days.
The Korean brand has made sports a key part of its marketing plans in the last two years. Kia has sponsorship deals with all major pro sports except baseball. Deals include pacts with the NBA, the Southeastern Conference, the NFL on CBS, the NHL and the College Football Hall of Fame.
In addition to sponsorship deals, Kia also spends significantly to broadcast spots during many games.
Michael Sprague, Kia's executive vice president of marketing, declined to provide specifics on Kia's marketing budget. But he acknowledged that spending on sports-related marketing and advertising is a growing piece of Kia's budget.
Many people now watch TV shows on their home DVRs and skip the commercials. But people tend to watch sports live, so advertisers can count on more people watching commercials broadcast during games, Sprague said.
Also, online streaming services such as Hulu.com use advertising formats with fewer ad slots than the same TV show or movie will have during standard programming.
"The data is there to show that as consumers are DVR-ing more and more TV shows, sports are one of the things that people continue to watch in real time," Sprague said in a recent interview. "People want to live in that moment and see the action right then and there."
Kia will also use sports marketing as part of an effort to reach Hispanics. "We're getting more into that, particularly in the soccer space," Sprague said.
Kia sold a record 557,599 vehicles in the United States last year, up 15 percent from 2011.
Sprague said Kia's marketing budget will increase in 2013, but he declined to provide specifics. This spring, the brand plans a campaign for the Forte compact.
Kia also plans to launch a redesigned Kia Soul and introduce the new Cadenza large sedan this year.