Kia Game On

Kia put viewers at home in the game by turning their smartphones into tennis racquets. This was the world's most awarded second-screen mobile campaign for 2014 with 20 global award wins.


Kia cars receive some of the best auto reviews and have won multiple awards for quality, design and innovation. However, a large portion of the general public still held misconceptions around these traits. As a result, Kia was not included in the consideration set by enough potential buyers.

We were challenged to maximize the impact of Kia’s Australian Open Tennis sponsorship, build deeper engagement with consumers and improve perceptions of the Kia brand.

Specifically, our objectives were to:

  • Maintain Kia‘s "most associated" brand ranking with the Australian Open
  • Increase consideration amongst new car buyers by 10% year-on-year
  • Increase consumer engagement with Kia by 10% year-on-year
  • Increase positive brand discussions and web traffic to by 20% year-on-year
  • Increase vehicle sales volumes by 6% vs. same period in 2013

More logos on court signage and 30 second TV spots wouldn't cut it.

Other tennis sponsors typically create simple online flash games, tennis trivia websites or stage activations in and around the tennis precinct to give their brands a greater share of attention and stand out among the many competing sponsors.

To achieve Kia’s aggressive objectives we had to create something completely new, unique and ownable.  It needed to grab viewers' attention and deliver on our objectives.


Our insight was simple - every sports fan dreams of being part of the game, but unless you’re one of the players it’s almost impossible to gauge the true power and precision of professional sport.

Our ambition was to transform the tennis TV viewing experience and for Kia to be the brand that gives armchair athletes the chance to feel what it’s like to be on court facing the world’s fastest server. In doing so, we would demonstrate Kia’s innovation credentials and attract greater attention and consideration for the brand.

With 80% penetration, we determined smartphones were our best avenue to connect. But playing against an actual tennis pro at real speed and live during a TV broadcast using a phone had never been done. Indeed industry experts said it wasn’t technically possible.

Using audio watermarking, we figured we could sync a TV ad with an app and allow it to calibrate against the correct serve. We knew in-car simulators use the phone’s gyro; and therefore could determine the racquet’s position. Balance games can sense the phone’s movement and therefore the racquet’s levels.

Fitness apps use the accelerometer and the speed of the user’s tennis swing and cooking apps use the phone’s timer-- so we could tell if the user swung too soon or too late.

After 4 months of R&D, prototypes and experimentation, we successfully created a global-first smartphone app that combined all of these complex technologies.

Kia “Game On” met the brief and allowed TV viewers to return six seriously quick serves from Sam Groth, including his world record at 263 kph.

"Game On" became the primary engagement platform for Kia’s Australian Open campaign, making all media and consumer exposures interactive.

For the first time globally, we made a tennis grand slam truly interactive for TV viewers.


Our seamless second screen experience was a smash hit.

Tasked with lifting sales by 6% over the same period a year ago, we achieved an 8% increase – beating targets by 33% and millions of dollars. This was especially noteworthy given the Australian Open experienced a 4% YOY TV audience decline and Kia’s campaign budget was reduced 5.7% year-on-year.

"Game On" generated record-breaking engagement across the Australian Open period:

  • 193,000 app downloads in 2 weeks 
  • Each player spent 15+ minutes playing, viewing more than 20 Kia ads
  • Ranked #1 on iTunes and #1 on Google Playstore Charts 
  • Generated $2 million in editorial coverage
  • Doubled organic web traffic to 
  • 500% increase in positive conversations around Kia's tennis sponsorship 
  • Social media users sought out our ads...“We want to see more Kia ads!”
  • Network Seven declared that Game On “Set the benchmark for TV integration”

"Game On" also surpassed all brand and consideration metrics:

  • 79% of players surveyed said as a direct result of the app, they were "More Positive" or "Much More Positive" about the brand
  • Overall activity drove awareness and consideration for the brand, delivering a 19% gain in consideration – a critical requisite in getting on buyers’ shortlists
  • “Test drives” via the App and Kia website increased by 29% year-on-year
  • “Locate a dealer” via the App and Kia website increased by 64% year-on-year
  • Kia was the #1 recalled brand of the Australian Open out of 35 sponsors, with top-of-mind awareness of Kia’s sponsorship rising from 27% to 57% YOY, dwarfing competitors with the next highest achieving only 6%! 

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