Kia to Play From the Ladies’ Tees
By Stephanie Wei under General

Apparently not all automakers are struggling with their finances — at least the international ones. Kia Motors, the Korean car company, has signed a pair of new sponsorship agreements in women’s professional golf.

On Wednesday the LPGA announced Kia as the title sponsor for its first event in the States. The Kia Classic Presented by J Golf will take place March 22-28 in San Diego, California, at the La Costa Resort and Spa Golf Course.

Another win for Commissioner Mike Whan and the LPGA. Now this deal is just another example of what some have preached — if a company wants to expand its marketing portfolio in the golf sector, but doesn’t feel like spending the $6 million to $8 million to sponsor a PGA Tour event, it should look to the LPGA for a less expensive investment.

In January, SportsBusiness Journal’s Jon Show reported that the men’s tour had been in talks with Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, to become the next title sponsor of the tournament stop in San Diego (now the Farmers Insurance Open), but apparently negotiations fell through.

Perhaps more companies will follow suit and turn to the LPGA for sponsorship opportunities.

Meanwhile, Kia signed Michelle Wie as its brand spokesperson. Jon Show has some details:

The company’s logo will appear on her golf bag, replacing the spot previously occupied by Sony, which opted not to renew its three-year-old deal at the end of last year. This is the first new endorsement deal that Wie has signed since turning professional, when she signed with Nike, Sony and Omega watches near the end of ‘05.

In between midterms and working out, Michelle tweeted, “I’m so excited and honored to be a partner with Kia Motors!” She also posted a picture of her new Kia car (photo above). But the bad news is that she still has to work on her speaking skills. ESPN’s Jason Sobel playfully tweeted, “When reached for comment about her new deal with Kia, Michelle Wie said, ‘It’s like, OMG! I’m just so, like, wow, you know? I mean, like…’”

Um, like, totally, he was just joking, though. But hey, let’s go easy on her. She’s only 20.