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Case Study: KIA at the Australian Open: Taking sponsorship beyond the traditional

Social & Digital

Case Study: KIA at the Australian Open: Taking sponsorship beyond the traditional






Kia has been the proud sponsor of the Australian Open tennis championship for the past decade. Each year, we have explored innovative and new ways to promote our association with this prestigious event. This year, we made the decision to leverage social media to talk to our audience in a meaningful and engaging way.

Our social media approach formed part of our wider sponsorship campaign: to support one of the largest sports sponsorships in the southern hemisphere.

The success of the social media campaign demonstrates the power of a fully-formed, properly implemented social media strategy and implemen- tation as an important part of the complete marketing mix.


The objectives of the campaign were very clear: utilise social media to further solidify the Kia-Australian Open spon- sorship, while engaging with a variety of audiences in a meaningful and impactful manner. In order to do this, we needed an approach that could work across several platforms and have numerous touch points for Kia fans and tennis audiences Australia-wide.


Digital marketing agency We Are Social developed Kia’s social strategy, with audience engagement being the key metric.

To ensure Kia engaged with tennis fans beyond the traditional sponsor- ship, a social strategy was required that included content generation, conversation engagement, integrated competitions and live event promotions. The core of the strategy was: > to engage tennis fans in a fun and interactive way via social media

> to amplify Kia’s messaging through owned and tennis user content generation

> integration with Kia-owned activations during the Finals Weekend, and

> reporting from on the ground at the Australian Open through a legitimate voice.


An integrated social competition was created partnering with Channel Seven and its online offering of Yahoo!7.

The game ‘Kia Big Shot’, hosted on mobile app Fango, ran for three weeks before and during the tournament. The competition was structured in such a way that it motivated people to keep returning to the game on a daily basis.

The prizes for the three winners of the competition were three Kia cars. The game was based on the popular game Pong and allowed users to compete with their Facebook friends. The more they played, the more entries they accumulated towards the final draw. The game was integrated into social media, ensuring players could share their scores with friends, raising the awareness of the competition beyond the Yahoo!7 and Kia channels. The game was also promoted on air through the Seven Network, both live in broadcast during the tennis, as well as through dedicated TV spots.

We Are Social also built a unique competition for Facebook, ‘Kia Tie-break’. Tapping into the core passion of sports fans having favourites, and Australia’s passion for sports tip- ping, We Are Social created a game in which users ‘bet’ on which players they expected to win in particular games through the course of the Open. As people have very little time on social media, the user experience was completely intuitive and simple, while being fully socially integrated to ensure organic sharing of the users’ ‘bet’ for that day. This created further exposure for the brand across social media channels. The competition ran for the first week of the Australian Open, with daily prizes up for grabs, including men’s finals tickets.

Alongside these two competition elements, We Are Social also created a number of engaging mechanics reward- ing online fans of the brand. Partnering with popular tennis blogger, The Aussie Word, Kia handed over the reins of its Twitter page to report live from on the ground at Melbourne Park. Ensuring Kia had a legitimate and educated voice in tennis was essential to the brand, and this tac- tic ensured the tennis fanatics following TAW and Kia had access to everything that was happening live at the home of Australian tennis.

We Are Social looked to create and own a defined brand hashtag across all activities during the competition, ensuring brand awareness was maxi- mised at all opportunities. The hashtag, #kiaAO, was used in pre-tournament competitions, during Melbourne-wide Tennis Ball Hunts, and at live reporting and audience engagement.

Working with PRG (Production Resource Group) and TweetWall Pro, We Are Social created a live second screen that allowed Kia to converse in real time with the audiences at Federa- tion Square, as well as allowing them the opportunity to share their thoughts with the audience on what was happening in regards to the live tennis action. All of this was done in Kia’s irreverent tone of voice and helped create important social brand equity during the climax of the tournament.

During the whole tournament, We Are Social worked with social influenc- ers to promote all activities further and wider than the Kia owned channels. These influencers ranged from Insta- gram super users brought down from the Gold Coast, to Melbourne-based mum bloggers, all with an interest in both Kia and tennis. A wide range of backgrounds meant that we were able to speak with different audiences in a relevant and engaging manner, while further promoting Kia’s relationship with the Australian Open as a proud sponsor.


Kia experienced phenomenal social media activity as a result of this campaign:

> more than 28 million Kia-related impressions across all social channels (including media)

> more than 12 million impressions on defined hashtag #kiaAO alone (all earned media)

> more than 100,000 visits to Kia-owned competitions

> more than 90,000 active engagements on Kia-related content on all social channels, and

> 6000 new Facebook ‘likes’ generated.

We Are Social grew the engagement around the Open substantially from pre- vious years, all while ensuring the brand was at the centre of the conversation. By the close of the tournament, Kia Australia had the highest audience engagement the brand had ever received on social media, was top in sponsor share of voice, with 90% total share of tennis related content, and the hashtag #kiaAO was the ninth most popular tennis hashtag in Australia after #ausopen, #djokovic, #tennis, #federer, #murray, #7sport, #australianopen and #ausopen2013.



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