Cars for fast stars
The high point on day two of last month's Wealth Auto Show was the presentation of a Hyundai Veloster to sprinter Yohan Blake by Key Motors. He did not actually drive the car at the moment, but seemed very happy with having the keys to the sporty-looking three-seater.
Blake is the latest Jamaican sprinter to be presented with a car since Jamaica started dominating the shortest track event in the early to mid-2000s. After his record-breaking exploits at the Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt was presented with a BMW M3 by Puma. And for some time proud Mercedes-Benz owner, former 100m World record-holder Asafa Powell featured on an advertising billboard near the Police Commissioner's office on Hope Road, St Andrew.
Elizabeth Fitz-Coye, executive assistant, sales, spares and service at Key Motors, told Automotives that Blake winning in South Korea, where Hyundai is made, was not a factor in presenting him with the Veloster. "We said we wanted to show our appreciation to our athlete with a present," she said, pointing out that Olympic 400m hurdles champion Melaine Walker had been presented with a Santa Fe previously.
Subsequently, having found out about Blake's YB Afraid Foundation, the Veloster was branded with the organisation's name, and a Key Motors donation of $25,000 facilitated its treat at the Mount Olivet Boys' Home yesterday.
Even without Blake the Veloster was a crowd-puller at the Wealth Auto Show, Fitz-Coye said that not only is the car a first for Hyundai, but it is also the first in the island. She said that the presentation was not a marketing ploy.
"We always try to give our athletes something. It is our appreciation for our stars who make us proud. If their having one of our brands make people say they want them too, that's awesome," she said.
Puma purchased the BMW M3 for Bolt through Stewart Motors, the Jamaican government giving a duty break on the vehicle. More recently, though, Stewart provided personally branded Mini Countryman cars for the judges in the finals of the recently concluded KFC On the Verge televised talent competition.
Bernard said when the event's organisers approached the new car dealership for their input, "I offered the Countryman". Describing the car as "chic, trendy, exciting", Bernard said the company upped the excitement level by branding each car with the judge's name.
So Tifa, Ce'Cile, Tami Chynn and Dexter Potinger rolled to the finals at KFC Old Hope Road in Mini Countryman style. The cars' presence on the streets "definitely led to queries", from which one sale was concluded last less than two weeks ago.
"We are trying to align ourselves with this type of thing," Bernard said. "What happens in Jamaica is that a lot of parties want car brands to be present, but who goes to parties to look at cars?" she asked. On the other hand, a Mini Countryman quartet travelling in a pack "is a head-turner".
"That is the type of attention we are looking for," Bernard said.