Kia Sponsors USA’s ‘Psych’

NEW YORK Kia Motors will take a bigger role on USA Network this year by sponsoring the Jan. 9 opener of TV series Psych. The partners have created a custom car spot that showcases the show’s characters on a wacky caper with the Kia Optima along for the ride.

The spot will air throughout USA Network’s first-quarter schedule to promote the automobile and the quirky comedy/mystery about a guy who uses his observational skills to persuade cops that he’s using psychic powers to solve crimes. The in-house effort was crafted in collaboration with Steve Franks, the show’s creator and executive producer. IPG’s Initiative handled media buying.

“The character of the Kia car and Shawn and Gus were really a perfect match for each other,” said Chris McCumber, USA Network’s evp, marketing, digital and brand strategy. “That’s the success behind our ‘Characters Welcome’ brand. We can match up our partners’ brand attributes to those of our characters.” McCumber summed up both brands as young, smart, hip and irreverent.

The 30-second spot highlights Kia Optima’s stylish features and high-tech components. Characters Shawn and Gus (played by James Roday and Dule Hill) are being chased by a gunman, as they become mesmerized by Optima’s beauty and accidentally give up their location to him. The gunman, in turn, sets off an alarm when he tries to steal the car, allowing the good guys to make a run for it. The spot ends with Shawn fantasizing about driving off in the car, Gus shaking him back to reality and a tune-in message for the TV series.

Last season, Alltel similarly used the Psych characters in a 30-second spot as a vehicle to promote its “My Circle” calling plan feature.

“Viewers really see promos and movie trailers as content rather than commercials,” McCumber said. “When you place them at the beginning of the break, you have a high rate of people sticking with the network. They tend to be the most effective ways to reach our viewers.”