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Aust Open Tennis – #1 Grand Slam for Fan Engagement


Taking shelter from the heat, this week I take a look at the Aust Open Tennis currently underway in Melbourne.

The other three Tennis Grand Slams: Wimbledon in London, The French Open in Paris and the US Open in New York are all arguably more prestigious overall than the Aust Open.

However, when it comes to fan engagement, the Aust Open is the #1 Grand Slam. Digital Marketing and Social Media are key tools in that engagement.

Here are some reasons why.

Social Shack

Social Shack @Australian Open
Social Shack #ausopen

In a Grand Slam first, the Aust Open has launched the Social Shack at this year’s open.

Located in Garden Square, the one-stop-shop for all things social has been designed to engage fans with the players and the tournament on a deeper level than ever before.

The Social Shack will feature live feeds from the tennis world’s most active social media users including Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, encouraging millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to interact with their idols in real time at the Australian Open.

Activities in the Social Shack during Australian Open include

·         A virtual Tug of War between social media leaders, with fans tweeting support to get their favourite player over the line

·         The Social Scoreboard will determine who rules on twitter, facebook, instagram, and which player will be crowned No.1 at tournament’s end

Social Leaderboard
IBM Social Sentiment

·         Live Cheer will track player trends in twitter conversation match-by-match

Other features to entertain the socially inclined are

·         12-metre LED screen of @australianopen coverage

·         Larger-than-lifesize 3D #AUSOPEN hashtag for novelty selfies and photo opportunities

·         Multi-media studio for player visits and live tweet-ups

·         Live Q&As with players and special guests

·         A daily AO Radio social show between day and night sessions

The one million plus fans on the Australian Open facebook page and more than 350,000 twitter followers can expect a lively 24-hour coverage through the Social Shack, and access to exclusive behind scenes moments, score updates, fun stuff and short video highlights.

There’s even a special twitter handle for help, with anyone needing event information able to tap into @AOHelp.

AO Blitz

AO Blitz is an online interactive competition that invites individuals, schools and clubs to take on a series of challenges with the overall objective of encouraging them to play tennis.

The Top 256 towns that won the competition during 2013 have each been allocated players at the current Australian Open. For example, Alice Springs has been allocated Andy Murray. The towns with the winning male and female singles players will receive a party for the entire town, to be hosted on World Tennis day, Mar 2, 2014. A team of Alice Springs players travelled to the Australian Open and had the opportunity to meet Andy Murray.

Andy Murray and Alice Springs fans
AO Blitz

Leading players at the Australian Open have taken to social media during the Australian Open to thank the fans in each of the towns that are supporting them.

The major tournament sponsors; Kia and Jacob’s Creek have also come up with some fun promotions and campaigns to keep fans engaged.

Kia Greatest Fan

Kia Greatest Fan is a consumer promotion to find the Australian Open’s greatest fan. Fans can submit photos or video entries on You Tube showing all the ways they like to express their enthusiasm for the tournament.

There are daily winners announced each day during the Australian Open, each of whom shall receive an Apple iPad. From those 14 daily winners, World #1 Rafael Nadal will award the grand prize in the Social Shack for the best overall entry. That person will win a Kia Soul.

At the Australian Open site, fans can enter a video instantly via the Kia Fan Cam in the Kia Cerato in Garden Square. They can also post a photo at the Social shack on site, also in Garden Square.

Fans are also encouraged to get their friends on their social networks to like their entry, in order to boost their chance of winning.

Kia Game On

Kia Game On is an interactive consumer promotion where Kia challenges viewers watching at home to return the world’s fastest serve live from their television.

Downloading an app onto their smartphone, the game requires viewers to use their phone as a racquet and try to return a serve from Sam Groth of Australia.

The campaign is supported by six different TVC’s that deliver six different serves, an online practice court as well as digital outdoor media.

Each player who successfully returns one of Sam’s serves gets a score and has a chance to win a Kia Cerato Koup. Fans can check on the Game On website to see the comparative scoreboard of other players.

Kia Open Drive

Open Drive is series of player interviews given inside the tournament courtesy vehicle, the Kia Sportage as they are being driven around Melbourne. Each player is asked a series of personal questions to reveal a different side of themselves.

Jacob’s Creek Open Series

The Jacob’s Creek Open Film Series is a branded content series which celebrates the brand’s Australian Open sponsorship. The third in a series using Andre Agassi, it aims to reveal how the terrain you cover in life shapes your true character.


Results to Date

During the first week of the tournament, more than 2.4M #ausopen related tweets were sent out, which is an increase of +23% over the same period in 2013.

Update – Jun 2014 World Cup 2014

Kia must have been so pleased with the results of Game On that they have used a similar promotional idea again. This time saving goals at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Update Oct 2014 – Australian Open 2015

Some interesting initiatives unveiled for the Australian Open 2015.

Get closer to the action at Australian Open 2015

New ausopen.com puts fans in the box seat

Update Jan 2015 – Australian Open 2015

The new Australian Open 2015 website was officially launched yesterday.


by Konrad Markham

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