Kia has announced that Michael Sprague, ex Lincoln Mercury marketing manager, will permanently replace former vp-marketing Ian Beavis, who was let go in February.
Sprague will be in charge of all aspects of the marketing department at Kia, which is based in Irvine, Calif., such as sponsorships, brand marketing, product planning and advertising. His appointment is effective starting Aug. 11.
Over the past 12 years, Sprague has served in a number of positions at Ford, which owns Lincoln, including brand manager of the Mercury Cougar, general manager-global brand marketing for Mazda and corporate brand manager for Ford.
"Michael's strong marketing background coupled with his international experience will help us achieve our goal of continually raising the brand profile," said Byung Mo Ahn, who was hired as Kia group president and CEO in February. Shortly after his arrival, Beavis and former CEO Len Hunt were dismissed.
Sprague will take over a marketing department that has vowed to increase its ad spending by 30% this year, according to Tim Chaney, Kia's marketing director. Kia spent $217 million on advertising last year and $75 million through April (not including online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Meanwhile, Kia's sales were up 2.1% through June, per Autodata, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
In the past several months, Kia has announced several key partnerships, including sponsorship of the Van's Warped Tour and a deal with the NBA. This fall, the brand will be the presenting sponsor of NBA's Tip-Off Week.