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Kia’s tennis game a smash

Upwardly mobile: Tennis player Sam Groff belts serves at up to 263km/h in Kia’s phone app tennis serve competition.

100,000 tennis fans download phone app for a swing at a free Kia Koup Turbo

Kia logo22 Jan 2014

MORE than 100,000 tennis fans are volleying and back-handing their way through the Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis tournament from their lounge rooms, courtesy of Kia’s world-first Game On phone app.

The app, for both Apple and Android mobile phones, turns the phone into a virtual racquet, using internal sensors to judge a successful serve return from a series of TV commercials featuring the world’s fastest server, Australian professional player Sam Groth.

Successful returns are registered in a data base, with the phone’s owners entered into draw to win a Kia Cerato Koup Turbo at the end of the championship.

According to Kia, 110,217 of the apps had been downloaded from its corporate web site by half-way through the tournament.

For Kia, the marketing program is designed to raise awareness of Kia’s association with the annual tennis championship at Melbourne Park.

Kia Australia general manager of marketing Steve Watt told GoAuto that the involvement of fans during TV commercial breaks helped to imprint the Kia sponsorship on the minds of viewers in a fun way.

“Instead of people going off to make a cup of tea or whatever, we have people swinging their phones, trying to return a 263km/h serve, with the chance of winning a car,” he said.

Kia Motors Corporation reputedly spends $10 million a year on the Australian Open in sponsorship and loan cars as part of its global marketing program, having replaced Ford as major sponsor of the Open in 2002.

According to research company Roy Morgan Research, 6.7 million Australians tune in to the tennis at some point during the tournament, but only 2.8 million currently associate Kia with the event.

Roy Morgan says its survey of TV views shows that recognition rises among intending new-car buyers – especially intending Kia buyers – with three-quarters of the latter associating Kia with tennis and the Open.

Roy Morgan Research automotive group account director Jordan Pakes said a commitment by Kia to extend its sponsorship through to 2018 would make it the event’s longest-running sponsor.

“When it comes to association with the Australian Open, Kia is the only brand to hit double figures (in the surveys), with Adidas and Nike the next most often associated brands,” he said.

“Although neither sports brand is a ‘direct’ event sponsor, their logos appear on most centre-court (and televised) players including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

“The five-fold boost between the proportion of all Aussies who associate Kia with the event and the proportion of Kia new car intenders suggests the car-maker is doing an excellent job at leveraging their involvement with prospective buyers.

“Twelve years on, previous major sponsor Ford still manages to generate event association with almost 700,000 Australians.” Mr Watt said he believed the Kia Game On phone app competition would further link Kia with the tournament, especially among tech-savvy young car buyers which Kia was targeting.

The app was developed in Australia by Kia and partners Mnet, Initiative and Innocean Worldwide.

According to Mnet, the app uses an “audio fingerprint” from the broadcast TV commercial to sync with the phone, and then uses the phone’s accelerometer to determine the accuracy of the user’s swing.

Once the phone app is switched on ahead of an ad break, the home player grips the phone like a tennis racquet, watches an on-screen count-down and then swings when the on-screen Sam Groth serves.

Six ads are being screened, featuring a variety of serves – flat, kicker, slice, slider, slow and bomb.

The successful swingers go into a draw for the car after the tournament finishes with the men’s final on Australia Day.

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