Kia scores LeBron James as new ‘luxury ambassador’

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Kia Motors America has signed LeBron James to a multiyear deal to be the spokesman for the K900, its first-ever rear-drive luxury sedan.

The South Korean automaker this week announced the 10-time NBA All-Star as the “luxury ambassador” for the vehicle, which arrived in Kia showrooms in March.

The idea for the partnership, according to Kia, started following James requesting to drive one of the vehicles and tweeting about the sedan.

“I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia’s first-ever luxury ambassador," James said in a statement. "This partnership is about the power of great style and performance. Kia and the K900 are out to challenge conventional wisdom and show people how to think differently, and I can relate to that.”

The first television spot for the company’s new “Fit For a King” ad campaign with James for the K900 is scheduled to debut later this month when the 2014-15 basketball season gets underway, according to Kia.

Eric Ibara, Kelley Blue Book senior analyst, said the James-K900 partnership could help propel sales of the vehicle and brand.

“With Mr. James, Kia has assembled a noteworthy group of athletes whose success, Kia hopes, rubs off on its brand,” he said. “As Kia grows globally, it is likely just a matter of time before a star soccer player joins the Kia team."

James is the most recent athlete to work with Kia. Others include fellow NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, tennis star Rafael Nadal, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie.

The multi-year partnership with Kia comes months after James signed a one-year deal to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, owned by Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert.

Kia sold about 1,100 K900s through September, including only 56 vehicles last month.

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