Kia Nets Clippers' Blake Griffin as Global Spokesman

Automaker Aims to Build on Viral Sensation of Player Leaping an Optima During NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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Kia Motors America announced today that it has signed pro basketball star Blake Griffin to a multiyear deal as a global spokesman, Automotive News reports.

Mr. Griffin, who plays for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, leaped over a Kia Optima as part of his winning dunk during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in February. The stunt was a marketing coup for Kia, spawning commercials for the brand. Videos of the jam posted on YouTube also went viral, garnering millions of online views.

Kia is one of the fastest-growing brands in the industry. U.S. sales through May have increased 45% from the five-month period last year to 200,060, representing a 3.8% share of the U.S. market compared with 3.0% in first five months of 2010. In May, sales jumped 53% from May 2010 to 48,212.

"With Kia's U.S. market share at an all-time high and rising fast, we are more focused than ever before on continuing to raise the brand's profile with highly visible strategic partnerships, and expanding our presence in professional basketball by adding Blake Griffin as a global spokesperson will allow us to continue our momentum," Michael Sprague, Kia's VP-marketing, said in a statement.

Mr. Griffin will appear in Kia advertising campaigns, represent the brand in public appearances, promotions and other marketing efforts, Kia said.

Kia is the official automotive sponsor of the NBA.

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