SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/This Weeks Issue

Kia after good Agassi mileage

Kia's COO calls
Andre Agassi the perfect
match for a sporty brand.

Andre Agassi is pitching Kia Motor Co.'s models in his latest endorsement, a low-seven-figure annual deal that includes two cars and will push Agassi's annual income, with prize money, to more than $20 million.

"Andre and Tiger [Woods] are the only guys I can think of that have multiyear car deals," said Perry Rogers, Agassi's personal manager. "Andre's dedication to his career, his performance recently, his endurance ... people have grown up with Andre to a certain extent. He has become part of a sports fan's life."

But don't expect to see Agassi selling cars in the United States anytime soon. The advertising and sponsorship deal excludes North America and is focused primarily on Australia and Asia, Kia's main markets, Rogers said. Officials with the car company, which unveiled the Agassi endorsement last week in South Korea, could not be reached for comment.

Mark Juhn, the 58-year-old company's chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement: "Kia is positioning itself as a young, sporty and friendly brand. Andre Agassi is a perfect match for our brand values, and this advertising campaign will be a major step in repositioning Kia around the world."

Unlike U.S. team sport athletes, tennis players like Agassi are far more international stars, with the deals to prove it. In addition to Kia, Agassi endorses Japanese camera giant Canon, Austrian tennis racket maker Head, German cellular provider Deutsche Telekom, and American sneaker giant Nike and razor Schick. Rogers said there was one more major deal in the pipeline. Details were not available. Agassi briefly endorsed Mazda in 1997 in Asia.

Kia this year became a major sponsor of the Australian Open, replacing Ford Motor Co. Rogers cited the Aussie connection as one reason Agassi agreed to the two-year pact, because he wanted to support a company that backs tennis.

In 2001, Kia, a unit of Hyundai Motor Co., posted revenue of $9.3 billion and earnings of $417 million, according to Hoovers.com.

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