By Barry Janoff
October 15, 2014: Of all the cars that LeBron James can arrive in at Quicken Loans Arena for Cleveland Cavaliers games, the Kia K900 will officially be one of them.
James, who is said to have an automobile collection of more than 20, added Kia's first luxury sedan, with a price tag that starts at $60,000, earlier this year. Over the summer. James shared his enthusiasm for the ride via photos on his Instagram account, along with the text, "Rolling around in my K900. Love this car!"
James also makes an appearance in the K900 in a new commercial for McDonald's Monopoly game.
Now, James and Kia Motors have taken the relationship to a marketing level, with the two-time NBA champ signing as the newly created role of K900 Luxury Ambassador. Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.
Kia is the official automotive partner for the NBA. Among its activations, the company awards an Optima to the MVP of the All-Star Game, an honor that James has won four times (giving the cars to charity each time).
James will appear in multi-media marketing for the brand, including TV to coincide with the start of the 2014-15 NBA campaign as well as activation around the All-Star Game this February in New York.
Kia's athlete roster also includes Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, top-ranked tennis star Rafael Nadal and U.S. Women's Open golf champion Michelle Wie.
James said the alliance with Kia was completely organic.
"For me, a partnership has to be authentic and real to who I am, and that's what makes this one so special," James said in a statement. "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 earns about $38 million in endorsements, according to industry analysts. In addition to Kia and McDonald's, this deals include Nike, Sprite (Coca-Cola), Beats By Dre, Samsung, Audemars Piguet, Upper Deck and Dunkin Donuts (in Asia).
According to Tim Chaney, vp-marketing communications for Kia Motors America, "Like Kia, LeBron James does not want to be confined by conventions or traditional definitions, and as our K900 Luxury Ambassador his star power will cause people to question everything they think they know about our brand."
"This partnership is about the power of great style and performance," said James. "Kia and the K900 are out to challenge conventional wisdom and show people how to think differently, and I can relate to that."
James earlier this year was named the favorite U.S. athlete by The Harris Poll and this month was called the most powerful athlete in the U.S. based on on-field performance and social media impact in the MVPindex report.