Kia reckons that more than 135,000 tennis fans are attempting to return serves from Australian tennis player, Sam Groth - from the comfort of their lounge rooms.
The Korean carmaker, title sponsor of the Australian Open, partnered with Mnet, Initiative and Innocean Worldwide to produce a mobile game that lets viewers treat their smartphone as a virtual racquet (think Nintendo Wii, but with your phone. - Ed.)
The app is not just for fun either, with participants rewarded for good returns-of-serve with entries in a major prize draw to win a Kia Cerato Koup Turbo (the better the shot, the more entries received).
Speaking with TMR, Kia Australia’s Steve Watt said the app was designed to engage with fans while giving Kia better leverage to raise awareness of its products.
“Kia Motors Australia has been a proud sponsor of the Australian Open Tennis since 2002 and every year we look for new ways to engage fans and create a memorable impression around the Kia brand,” Mr Watt said.
“When watching a tennis match, the ultimate experience for the millions of couch-bound viewers would be to actually put them on the court to face a serve from a tennis athlete. Until this year, the technology hasn’t been available to do this well.”
Mr Watt said utilising the ‘second screen’ meant that Kia could provide a better connection with customers, in addition to the exposure the Australian Open creates for the carmaker.
Kia recently announced a continued involvement in the Australian Open, extending its naming-rights sponsorship until 2018. For the 2015 event, fans can expect an improved version of the Game On app.
“We’ve already started work on the next version that will be released around a major sporting event this year, and of course we have many ways we plan to enhance the experience for the 2015 Australian Open,” Mr Watt said.
“The possibilities are endless; imagine returning a serve that the player who is on screen in front of you couldn’t, or having an entire rally against a formidable athlete.”
Mr Watt summed up the response to the Game On app for Kia.
“Our biggest complaint on the App stores has been ‘Can you put the ad on more?’ When was the last time a brand had consumers begging to see more of their ads? We’re thrilled.” Mr Watt said.
The Kia Game On App is available now, and will end with the Australian Open Men’s Singles Final on January 26.