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The Deeper Value Of Sports Partnerships

K
ia Motors Australia general manager of marketing, Dean Norbiato, told Ministry of Sport, sports partnerships have a deeper value for a brand than just sales, discussing how Kia’s sports partnerships help make Kia what it is.

“As a global brand, we are young at heart, we’re very much a challenger brand and we punch above our weight,” Norbiato said, in an interview with Ministry of Sport.

“Sponsorship is a fantastic vehicle to be able to get mass visibility in a consistent way, tennis does it in a concentration to kick off the year for us, the AFL and NRL are more of a longitudinal strategy, keeping our brand front-of mind.

“We often get asked, ‘well how many cars do you sell directly out of that?’, that’s not the main reason we enter the partnerships, the objectives are different, they aren’t transaction based.

“It plays a significant and important role for us, obviously we needed some visibility and penetration into the Brisbane market, our five-year partnership with the Brisbane Broncos has afforded us that, as well as growth into the Western Sydney corridor through the GWS Giants provides a longitudinal penetration into that market.

“Then it’s on to us about how we further bring that to life.

“The reason we enter a Broncos partnership is different to the Australian Open, or the GWS Giants,” he said.

When asked what kind of business Kia would be without its sport sponsorships, Norbiato said the partnerships have given Kia a deeper sense of value, in a quality connection.

“I think we wouldn’t be perceived as big as we are as a brand, I think there’s a multiplier effect that comes with sport sponsorship when done right,” he said.

“You could garner more attention for less money by having a programmatic buy on social media, but that doesn’t give you an idea on what is the value of attention, and that’s what we look at.

“The value of attention on a sporting event is much higher, and obviously you are talking to a passionate supporter base, whereas if you have attention you can pay for that’s cheaper, it just doesn’t have the level of penetration and quality of connection and awareness.

When asked what advice he would give to brands looking to get involved as a partner of a sporting organisation, Norbiato said it’s important to be critical and not let emotions affect decision-making.

“Think with your head, not your heart.

“It’s easy just to jump into bed because you like a football club, code or team, but is that the right business decision?

“I think being led by your objectives, and asking will this club help you achieve them?

“If you’re low on visibility in a certain market, it could be a cost-effective way to enter a market and gain that validity in market plus give you reach and access to an engaged pool of people,” Norbiato said.

“The easy answer is to say we’ve moved to more of a digital approach, but I think fundamentally, we have still tried to engage the consumer in a physical level where possible,” he said, discussing the effect of COVID-19 on Kia’s partnerships with sporting organisations.

“Probably the biggest example is partnering with the Broncos to launch a drive-thru for the members for the kick-off.

“We’ve also created an augmented reality booth that allows fans to get a photo with their favourite players even though they can’t enter the bubble.

“We have still looked at what we’re trying to achieve per partnership, based on our overall marketing strategy and looked to adapt where we can, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job at that…

“It has been frustrating, but it has awarded us a plan for the future that we can activate when we physically can get back in touch with supporters and fans.

“My mandate is to challenge convention, I think we did that excellently with the Australian Open when we formed a partnership with another partner of the Australian Open, Uber, and we were able to open the Kia fan fleet.

“This allowed us to double the KPI reach of ‘bums on seats’ as we offered fans free rides to the competition.

“So again, challenging what can be deemed a very tired leverage strategy of sporting partnerships, I think there’s a huge scope and opportunity looking at global partnerships.

“That’s in the DNA of Kia globally, our tag is ‘the power to surprise’,” he said.