Although Kia lacked the big marketing budget of competitors, the brand made professional sports, and the Super Bowl specifically, critical pieces of its ad strategy during Sprague's tenure. Over the years, it turned to a series of celebrities such as rocker Steven Tyler, actors Pierce Brosnan and Christopher Walken, along with comedian Melissa McCarthy to add spark to its commercials.
"We're a 3.7 percent market share player. There's 31 automotive brands, plus or minus a few. Over 300 different models that consumers can choose from," Sprague told Automotive News during the New York auto show. "There's one day of the year that 100 million-plus people are sitting around watching something in real time. What a way for a brand like ours to try to capture some of that attention."
Sprague also expanded Kia's sports marketing relationships with the National Basketball Association and the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Sprague confirmed last week that NBA star LeBron James will continue to be an ambassador for the brand.
Kia's U.S. sales rose 2.5 percent in March to 50,645. For the year, deliveries are down 0.6 percent.
The brand's light-truck sales are up 7.3 percent through March, while car volume has fallen 5.3 percent.