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The business challenge was simple: Make it onto more buyers’ shortlists, using Kia’s Australian Open tennis sponsorship. Initative’s communications challenges were:
- Distinguish the brand from a myriad of broadcast partners
- Overcome the fragmentation of TV viewing and audiences disengaging during ad breaks

Rather than seeing multi-screening as a threat to communications effectiveness, the agency saw devices as the key link to re-engaging viewers with broadcast TV. More importantly for Kia; re-engaging with its communications activity.


It’s every fan’s dream to be on court, though it’s impossible to gauge the true power and precision of the professional game. Therefore Initiative’s strategy was to put viewers in the game, transforming traditional viewing by giving armchair athletes the chance to return the world’s fastest serve. The idea: Game-On, a mobile app which turned viewers’ smartphones into racquets, synching with the TV broadcast to make the screen come to life. 


Playing against a tennis pro, at real speed, during a live broadcast, had never been done before. Kia pitted viewers against six different types of serve, placing them firmly in the game. Game-play was possible through Kia ads across the tennis broadcast. To extend beyond the broadcast, the agency created experiential zones with custom screens at the tennis, in CBDs and malls across Australia. The execution leveraged each of the screen partners.

In broadcast, a potential barrier existed around players having their apps open to sync with the TV spots. With very few pre-defined breaks, the agency manufactured specific times for game-play, fusing editorial intros with the range of serves to ensure seamless in-programme editorial. Game-play spots ran within fixed proximity of commentator mentions and always first in-break, to replicate editorial content. Outdoor and ambient screen partners were leveraged to ensure that in-mall activity delivered a similarly precise game-play experience.


Players loved Game-On. Over the campaign period, Kia experienced uplifts against:
- Consideration 37%
- Innovation 30%
- Quality 88%
- 193,000 downloads (329% over target)
- #1 app in the iTunes and Playstore charts
- On average, players spent 15 minutes playing, viewing 20 Kia commercials
- Generated $2m of PR coverage
- Organic website traffic doubled
- 79% of players were more positive about Kia

Most importantly, Kia achieved record January/February sales (8% uplift year-on-year; category down 4%.) By putting viewers in the game we evolved the viewing experience, and in doing so, ensured Kia was the standout brand of the 2014 Australian Open.

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