Kia has reinforced their sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament by serving up a world first interactive game that has had close to 125,000 Aussies diving in for a volley.
The Game On app, developed by Kia in collaboration with their marketing partners, has people using their smartphones to return a series of six different high-speed serves from ads screening on their televisions and on large interactive screens in shopping centres along the Eastern seaboard.
And the flying balls they're facing are dished out by the world's faster server, Australian Sam Groth, who has been clocked at 263km/h. And as an extra advantage, players have the chance to win a Kia Cerato Koup Turbo at the end of the tournament.
Kia's general manager marketing, Steve Watt says the response has been well beyond what the brand expected, with four days to go until the championship ends. "At the moment we're at a 123,000 which is amazing," Watt says. "We had a target of 45,000 and a stretch target of 100,000 -- which we passed halfway through the tournament.
"The strengh of this campaign is that it's being supported through the telecast, and spots in telecast, and being being driven by a lot of social media as well. And it's a very broad demographic -- the majority of downloads are Australian but the second market is Japan, despite the fact that they can't play within telecast because of it being a different signal, so are playing it online."
Watt says the app has been significant in generating engagement with Kia branding, to the extent that people are keen to see the ads -- rather than dodging them. "The nice thing about this is that there are 123,000 people walking around with a smartphone waiting for our ads to appear on TV."
He says the success of the app means we could see it applied to other sports Kia supports. "When we came up with the idea it was all about engagement and providing another layer to our sponsorship," Watt says. "This app has an ability to be redeployed with our other sponsorships, say for a soccer game with the World Cup, or AFL game with Essendon."
However he stresses those applications would not see people kicking their smartphones around their loungerooms like a ball. "It's more a goalie application - you join your hands and try to block the ball," he says.
The Kia "Game On" App can be downloaded from the Google and Apple app strores, and ends with the Australian Open Men’s Final on January 26.
This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott