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Kia deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin is a slam dunk

Kia Motors America and Los Angeles Clippers all-star Blake Griffin are extending their affiliation, which started with the NBA player dunking over a Kia Optima sedan this year, as the company announced a multiyear deal that would make Griffin a global spokesman for the automaker.

Kia and Griffin declined to disclose the terms of the deal. But the partnership will involve Griffin appearing on advertising material, making appearances for the company and taking part in other brand events, according to a statement.

Griffin’s relationship with Kia began in February when the power forward came up with the idea to jump over a car at the NBA All-Star weekend’s slam-dunk contest, which was held in Los Angeles.

“Once I knew that Blake wanted to jump over a car, we thought that Kia was the only brand it really made sense for him to do it with since they were the NBA partner in terms of the slam-dunk contest,” said Jaymee Messler, Griffin’s spokeswoman.

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The dunk paid off for Kia, generating buzz in social media and in sports coverage as well as instantly affecting consumer activity online and at dealerships, said Tim Chaney, Kia’s director of marketing communications.

“We saw an opportunity and had high hopes, but it greatly even exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Soon after, Kia produced a commercial based on the dunk.

Griffin said he is excited to work with the automaker.

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“Kia is a company that has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, especially recently, and I am really excited to be working with them on a larger level,” Griffin said in an email.

Kia said sales in the U.S. are up nearly 45% so far this year compared with the same period last year.

For Griffin, the reigning NBA rookie of the year, his partnership with Kia adds to a growing list of sponsorships, among them Nike Inc. and Subway.

“Blake is just really interested in growing with partners that make sense,” Messler said. “He’s being strategic about the partnerships he’s working with.”

As for the dunk commercial, Griffin said he thought it was pretty cool.

“The first time I saw the commercial it dawned on me that this dunk was going to be remembered for a long time,” he said.

salvador.rodriguez@latimes.com


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