2022.02.25 Kia

Kia, Australian Open, and Rafael Nadal

Kia has been the official sponsor of the Australian Open, one of the world’s four major tennis tournaments, for 21 years. In addition, this automaker has been supporting world-renowned tennis player Rafael Nadal since his rookie days.

On January 30, local time, the Australian Open 2022 came to an end when Rafael Nadal, who is called the men’s big 3 tennis player, won the championship after more than 5 hours of a fierce battle. Kia has been the main sponsor of the Australian Open - one of the world’s four major professional tennis tournaments - for 21 years, and the automaker has also sponsored Rafael Nadal since 2004. The company has been associated with tennis for a longer period of time than any other sport, and here is the story behind Kia’s love for tennis and her long-standing close relationship with the Australian Open and Rafael Nadal.

The relationship between Kia and the Australian Open began in 2002.

As the oldest sponsor of the Australian Open, Kia has been dedicated to the development of tennis and players.

The Australian Open, which celebrated its 117th anniversary since its establishment in 1905, is one of the four major tennis tournaments along with Wimbledon, French Open, and US Open. Since it is held first among the four Grand Slam tournaments - every January - it is considered the standard for predicting the trend of the tennis world for that year. In addition, thanks to the state-of-the-art stadium with a retractable roof structure and an environment composed of the latest technology such as digital billboards, it is considered one of the most innovative and young tournaments among major tournaments.

Kia has been the oldest and only major sponsor of this Australian Open for 21 years. There are common values behind the friendship between Kia and the Australian Open that has been maintained for over 20 years. The long partnership between Kia and the Australian Open dates back to 2002. At that time, Kia launched the world’s first urban compact SUV, the Sportage, and the mid-size SUV, the Sorento, and was aggressively targeting overseas markets as it was jumping into the Chinese market. Meanwhile, the Australian Open, unlike other major tournaments, was implementing innovative technologies and facilities without being bound by conventions. In this context, Kia and the Australian Open were the perfect partners for each other.

In the past, challenge and youth were the key values pursued by Kia and the Australian Open, but in the 2020s, innovation and sustainability emerged as the most important concerns. This is the reason why Kia launched a campaign called ‘Aces for Oceans’ with the start of the Australian Open. This is to inform the dangers of plastics polluting the sea and the need to remove them for a sustainable future, and to encourage small actions in daily life. Here, ‘Ace’ means, in tennis, to score through a serve. This digital campaign aims to prevent ocean pollution from plastic waste and create a sustainable environment by recycling plastic collected from the sea as many as the number of aces served in an Augmented Reality (AR) tennis game to make tennis equipment. Kia and the Australian Open, beyond the tennis court, are together as partners in pursuit of values for all to create a better tomorrow.

The Kia Arena in Melbourne Park, Australia, symbolizes the long-standing partnership between Kia and the Australian Open.

Kia’s Australian Open sponsorship activities begin with the official vehicle handover ceremony. Each year, 130 Kia cars are used for ceremonies and events for players, VIPs, and officials during the tournament. In accordance with its brand vision of providing sustainable mobility solutions, Kia also provided 10 EV6 units, the brand’s first dedicated electric vehicle, for the first time this year. In particular, there was a special event this year; The Australian Open has unveiled a new stadium, Kia Arena.

The Kia Arena can hold 5,000 people, making it the fourth-largest stadium in the Australian Open. It is located next to the Rod Laver Arena, and the entire stadium is set lower than the surrounding ground, and although it is open, it is designed so that people can enjoy the game comfortably, taking into consideration not only the shade inside the stadium but also in case of rain. Kia Arena started operating as the official Australian Open stadium this year, and after the event, it will be used as a venue for various cultural and artistic exhibitions and sports.

In the West, tennis is regarded as a gentleman’s sport along with golf, and sponsorship of large events such as the Australian Open greatly affects the brand image and value enhancement. Since its first sponsorship of the Australian Open, Kia has extended contracts several times and has been providing meaningful experiences to customers around the world through the companionship of over 20 years, while at the same time raising brand preference and image. This is the result of the trust that Kia and the Australian Open have built up over a long period of time.

Rafael Nadal, global ambassador for Kia: a relationship since his rookie years

Rafael Nadal won the men’s singles at the 2022 Australian Open, making him the greatest grand slam champion of all.

In the world of tennis, each step you made on the court matters. This tennis spirit is similar to Kia’s brand philosophy; It reminds us of Kia’s new slogan, “Movement that inspires,” those small movements can make a big difference. This is similar to the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, who defeated his rivals and moved one step closer to becoming the ‘Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)’. He has endured many hardships and obstacles until now. His hard work and passion have inspired many people including tennis fans around the world.

Born in Spain in 1986, Rafael Nadal was noted as a rising star by dominating European youth competitions even before his professional debut. He debuted as his professional tennis player at the young age of 15 and grew rapidly, reaching 200th in the world rankings within a year. He then entered his first major tournament at Wimbledon in 2003, surviving the round of 32 and reaching the top 50 in the world. The following year, he defeated the then world champion, Roger Federer, who was called the king of tennis, without losing a single set. He won his first major championship at the French Open in 2005, and in 2010 became the youngest ever to win a grand slam in all four major events, including the US Open.

But not all of this was easy. Rafael Nadal suffered from chronic knee injuries from a young age. Since 2011, he has suffered unexpected defeats, or sometimes he could not even join the game due to injuries he got during matches. In 2015, his wrist fracture worsened and his performance was not as good as before. As a result, he decided not to compete at Wimbledon in 2016 and focused on treatment and recovery from his injuries. But it didn’t take long for his return; A year later, he showed signs of a resurgence, rising in non-major competitions, eventually winning La Decima―his tenth win―at the French Open that year. And recently, he won the Australian Open this year, setting the record for most wins in men’s singles at a major event with a total of 21 wins.

The Kia EV6 handover ceremony was held in October last year at the Rafa Nadal Academy established by Rafael Nadal.

Kia’s relationship with Rafael Nadal began in 2004. The reason Kia was paying attention to him, who had just become a professional player in 2001, was that Rafael Nadal’s passion on and off the court perfectly matched Kia’s brand identity; And this is the background of the relationship between Kia and Rafael Nadal. Since the sponsorship contract, Kia has been supporting Rafael Nadal since he was only 17, when he was almost unknown.

What is noteworthy is that Rafael Nadal, in his twenties at the beginning of his heyday, suffered from ups and downs with knee and various injuries, and sometimes gave up the competition, but Kia believed and supported him. Kia not only launched a campaign to pray for Rafael Nadal’s recovery but also supported his splendid return by signing an extension of sponsorship while he was going through a slump. And he overcame knee, ankle, and wrist injuries, establishing himself as the best player in the world, and making amazing achievements in the tennis world. Nicknamed God of Clay, he won 13 times at the French Open, 2 times at Wimbledon, 4 times at the US Open, and 2 times at the Australian Open - hence, 21 times in total, making him the biggest champion of the four major tournaments.

In addition to his busy training schedule, Rafael Nadal is active as a global ambassador for Kia through TV, print media, and social media, and also participates in Kia’s major events to promote the brand to the world. At the time of extending the partnership with Kia to 2025, he said, "Kia has been by my side since I was 17 years old. It has played a big part in my journey as a professional tennis player and as a person. I’m excited to see what the next five years bring both on and off the court."

Kia sponsors various sports events in major overseas regions

Kia has been an official sponsor of the NBA League since 2008, and the automaker is expected to share important league moments this year as well.

In addition to tennis, Kia communicates with sports fans around the world through sponsorship and marketing activities in various international sports - for example, sponsoring the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup with Hyundai Motor Company. By sponsoring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament to be held in November this year, Kia plans to actively engage in various brand marketing activities for soccer fans around the world.

In addition, Kia recently extended its partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA), which began in the 2007 season. As a result, its brand awareness has been increased through various digital content as well as live screens, and sports fans and media around the world are paying attention to this automaker as it has the right to award MVP and Rookie of the Year award. Kia continues to sponsor major sports in major global markets, and this is expected to not only help Kia’s brand PR but also greatly improve the brand’s image.

Kia Arena shows Kia’s commitment to the world of tennis

Kia plans to carry out various sports marketing activities to promote this global brand and future mobility company. Just as the brand slogan says, ‘Movement That Inspires’, the automaker plans to continue to be with the Australian Open and Rafael Nadal. Kia hopes it inspires the world beyond the tennis court, creating other new inspirations.

HMG Journal Operation Team


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