Kia Augmented Reality Campaign - Kia Motors
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Best use of Mobile in Marketing
Integrated Sales Manager (SMG Red)
SMG Red and Inititive Media
Josh Martin - Integrated Sales Manager - SMG RED Rochelle Cass - Business Director - Initiative Media
As a primary sponsor of the Australian Open since 2002, KIA Motors was well-known amongst the competition’s nation-wide audiences, but needed to renew its brand if it was to return to the spotlight. KIA needed to both differentiate itself from competing brands in a highly-contested market, and stand out amongst other equally-established sponsors of the Open. To do this, SMG Red developed an Augmented Reality mobile application which would generate unprecedented buzz around KIA’s cars, by bringing them into the living rooms of thousands of Australians.
KIA Motors wanted to refresh and renew its brand perception by using the Australian Open as a platform to launch the KIA Optima, KIA’s newest medium-size car. KIA wished to challenge and elevate public perceptions of the brand through an interactive and organically-driven campaign. The campaign aimed to draw upon its longstanding association with the Open but also extend this association in a way which resonated with its audience’s habits and lifestyle.
To do this, SMG Red launched an Augmented Reality (AR) smartphone application, supplemented by conventional and social media campaigns. The AR application was seamlessly integrated with TV coverage of the Open as well as offering viewers an opportunity to explore the KIA Optima from their living room. The AR application allowed viewers to take a virtual tour of the Optima at intervals during telecasts of the Open and, when combined with a co-ordinated above the line campaign, led to January sales of the Optima exceeding expected levels by 57 percent.
The AR application alone was downloaded more than 12,000 times; an increase of over 500 percent on KIA’s initial targets. A substantial portion of these downloads were attributed to word-of-mouth publicity within the Australian Open audience.
Project Innovation / Need
The KIA Motors campaign was the first in Australia to rely on an AR application as its primary means of engaging with its audience. While most recent Australian mobile campaigns have simply repurposed existing content for a mobile platform, SMG Red sought to break from the norm and interface with the widespread use of smartphones in a daring and highly intimate manner.
The success of the campaign, which far exceeded both companies’ expectations, suggests that Australian audiences are increasingly open to being addressed via mobile platforms in ways which engage audiences on a highly personal level. From an industry perspective, it suggests that Augmented Reality applications and services have reached sufficient maturity for wide-scale use in such campaigns.
The successful outcomes of the campaign also highlight the increasing value of thorough background research and strategic methodology. Research conducted by Initiative Media revealed that the target audience of the KIA Optima campaign was both highly engaged with sports and technology. SMG Red conducted additional research to discover that 32 percent of Channel Seven’s tennis viewing audience used their mobile/smartphone simultaneously while watching the broadcast. This was the insight which suggested that integration between TV and mobile platforms was key to increased audience engagement with the campaign and ultimately informed its main directives.
SMG Red knew that it needed to engage its target audience in a manner both intuitive and unobtrusive to the overall viewing experience. The AR application’s design and functionality made it an easy and refreshing way for the target audience to become familiar with the KIA Optima, capitalising as it did on breaks within live coverage and the multitasking behaviours of the audience. Keeping the AR application simple yet interesting was crucial to the user experience, given the short commercial breaks during which audiences were expected to activate and explore the application. Initial advertising and promotional work across multiple media channels generated the initial audience interest from which the AR application then grew in popularity and usage.
The AR application was developed to spread organically, as well as through cross-media promotion. Over the four week campaign, the AR application was downloaded approximately 12,630 times, which represented an increase of 530 percent on KIA’s initial target of 2000 downloads. In addition, the application was activated three times for each download on average. These results highlight the way in which the application’s design not only resulted in a more intuitive user experience, but encouraged users to share their experience with others who watched the Open.
In addition to the AR application, SMG Red deployed a comprehensive campaign including TV commercials, online advertising and magazine promotions to invite viewers to download and test the application during live Australian Open coverage. With the campaign proving successful in its initial stages, SMG Red then called upon its stable of media resources to take full advantage of the AR application’s potential reach. This included expanding application triggers into the Yahoo!7 tennis webpage and New Idea magazine, maximising the impact of KIA’s sponsorship. The AR application was further supported with a host of TV segments during Australia Open coverage, featuring the Optima alongside players and match highlights.
While traditional PR and marketing modes were frequently deployed to address audiences, the AR application was undoubtedly the key element of SMG Red’s campaign. The more traditional facets of the campaign’s marketing strategy served to bridge a knowledge gap rather than persuade potential customers of the merits of KIA’s cars.
The AR application, developed by SMG Red, was able to reinvigorate KIA’s brand in a way that resonated with audience attitudes towards smartphone technology, leading to it being smoothly integrated into the overall viewer experience. This was where the campaign’s strategy truly engaged each member of the audience, placing the KIA Optima quite literally in the palm of the hand. The intimacy of the mobile platform meant that audiences were able to engage with the strategy to a far higher degree than any standalone print or broadcast material.