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AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY NEWS
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Irvine-based Kia Motors America teams up with LPGA

The automaker is the title sponsor for a March 21-27 event at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms.

By Caitlin AdamsPublished: February 02, 2011 01:50 PM

Photo credit – Eddie Meeks
Irvine-based Kia Motors America has signed on as the title sponsor of the Ladies Professional Golf Association's (LPGA) Kia Classic. Slated for March 21-27 at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms, the event will be the first LPGA tournament hosted in L.A. since 2005.

This will be the second year that the automaker has sponsored the tournament, and the event will be the first of the 2011 LPGA season featuring prize money. The competition will feature the tour’s 20 top-ranked players, including Michelle Wie, Kia's official golf ambassador and spokesperson for the event. The tournament is expected to draw a full field of 144 LPGA pros to compete for the $1.7 million prize purse.

"On the heels of record sales and market share in 2010, Kia is focused on finding innovative ways to increase brand awareness and consideration, and high-profile sports marketing partnerships such as the Kia Classic are key elements of our strategy," said Michael Sprague, Kia’s vice president of marketing and communications. "The youthful, exciting spirit exhibited by partners like the LPGA and players such as Michelle Wie reflect the 'exciting and enabling' characteristics found within the Kia brand and our products."

Kia, which reported January sales of 27,789, up 25.6 percent compared to the same month in 2010, has been ramping up its sponsorship and marketing platforms in recent months. Last week, the automaker unveiled its multi-faceted, large-scale Super Bowl campaign promoting the 2011 Optima through social media, TV advertising and an online game. In 2010, Kia became the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA, and jointly became the Official Automotive Partner of NBA All-Star, Official Automotive Partner of NBA Cares and title partner of the Kia NBA All-Star MVP Award.

"Kia's presence in the U.S. market continues to grow, and we are excited to once again partner with this fast-rising brand to bring LPGA golf back to the nation's second largest market," said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. "Kia's tremendous growth is a testament to the company's commitment to excellence. This same high level of excellence is what drives the LPGA and its players, and the Kia Classic will bring some of the best golfers in the world to Los Angeles."

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