Trophy Tour/Heroes Walk/OMBC/Undeniable – Kia & UEFA Europa League


The pandemic forced UEFA Europa League partner Kia Motors to pivot in the middle of its 2019/20 season marketing programme and switch many of its multi-pronged activation’s physical and in-person strands to virtual spaces and online experiences – including its work leveraging its Trophy Tour, Official Match Ball Carrier, Heroes Walk and Undeniable campaigns.


Territory: Europe/Global


Agencies (& Partners): Innocean Worldwide, Right Formula, Dugout & Bleacher Report





The overall objective of Kia’s UEL 2018-2021 sponsorship deal is to build brand familiarity among new audiences (of football fans) globally and particularly in Europe (a key region for the automaker), while the activation’s umbrella purpose and key communication message is that Kia supports and empowers football fans around the world.





Through the 2019/20 UEL tournament, Kia’s multi-strand activation programme was built on four key pillars:
> Trophy Tour #TheDreamPass
> Heroes Walk@Home
> Virtual OMBC
> Undeniable



Trophy Tour:


On 3 August 2020 UEFA and Kia announced that the ‘UEFA European League Trophy Tour Driven By Kia’ had completed its second season despite the pandemic-enforced organisation reworking.


Through the UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour Kia sought to bring the cup itself to fans across Europe and also set out to give back to and support/empower young football fans by partnering with the UEFA Foundation for Children on a project which collected and donated football boots to children in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.


The initiative originally spanned multiple physical tour stops with the trophy and a team of local player ambassadors (including Michael Owen, Thomas Berthold, Eric Abidal, Francesco Totti, Rafael Van De Vart, Patrice Evra and Jerzy Dudek), while related content was shared globally across Kia and UEFA channels, as well as via press partnerships and third party platforms (including DAZN & goal.com).



One highlight saw the trophy tour covered during German broadcaster RTL’s pre-match show and included Germany Kia Trophy Tour Ambassador Thomas Berthold speak about the campaign alongside a short video clip shared by the broadcaster to further drive campaign reach and awareness.


But, after physical stops in Barcelona and Frankfurt, Covid-19 led to the halt of the physical tour (and future planned stops in Amsterdam, Manchester, Rome and Warsaw) and the initiative moved online.




Kia worked with agencies Innocean Worldwide and Right Formula on the restructured trophy tour – which had a specific focus on Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK – which saw the sponsor and its football ambassadors hosting digital football classes.


Following guidance and training from each country’s local ambassador, participants filmed themselves performing a set of soccer skills challenges and sharing their hopes and dreams with the kids from the refugee camp: thus #TheDreamPass encouraged children to keep passing the football digitally.



Hero’s Walk @ Home:


One of Kia’s core UEL rights is the Official Match Ball Carrier (OMBC) program which it brings to life at every match throughout the tournament. Various mechanics are deployed to select the children to participate through a programme organised by the clubs & charities, dealer use etc.


At the start of this activation strand Kia created a video series called the Hero’s Walk which saw the brand share the stories of its young OMBC’s across its social channels.



Again, unfortunately the program had to be paused due to Covid-19, but the brand worked with agency Dugout to surprise initially disappointed children with video and phone calls from some of their favourite players/ambassadors to make up for missing their on-pitch physical appearance in a reworked initiative called ‘Hero’s Walk @ Home’.


This resulted in 3 young OMBCs (in Italy, Spain and the UK) getting surprise phone calls from Bruno Fernandes, Esteban Cambiasso & Luis Fabiano and the resulting content was shared globally across Kia channels and amplified via press and third party partner channels.





Final VOMBC:


Due to Covid-19, Kia was unable to carry out its traditional approach to a further aspect of its OMBC programme – namely the once-in-a-lifetime in stadium experience based around the final itself – so Kia switched to a virtual experience.


Normally the host market – which in 2020 was Germany as the game was played in Colgne’s RheinEnergieStadion on 21 August (after the original 17 May match was switched from the Stadion Energa Gdańsk in Poland) – selected the ball carrier for the final. In 2020 Kia work closely with a local charity, in this case with Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk, to identify the child to be the Kia OMBC for the final – 10-year-old Justus (who suffers from Asperger and Tourette syndrome).


Pandemic regulations unfortunately meant that Justus was not allowed to attend the game, but to keep its commitment to him and the OMBC programme, Kia collaborated with UEFA and agencies Innocean and Right Formula to set up a two-way virtual reality experience for him instead.


To replace the tunnel experience, a screen and 360-degree camera pairing was installed at the stadium tunnel and Justus was given a VR headset which enabled him to greet the players and official as they arrived and then interact with the Inter Milan and Sevilla players in the tunnel – all guided virtually by German icon and Kia ambassador Michael Ballack.


Again the resulting content was shared globally across Kia and UEFA channels, as well as through PR, media partnerships and third party partners (including goal.com).






Working together with Bleacher Report, Kia sought to celebrate the ‘Undeniable’ passion of football fandom and to acknowledge the efforts fans everywhere have made during the tough times of Covid-19.


The car sponsor partnered with B/R and several local markets to identify fans who had done various things to support one another and their community – such as raising money during lockdown and speaking out about important topics such as mental health during challenging times.


Kia decided to thank them and reward them for their efforts by donating equipment that their local clubs needed and giving them a special experience led by ambassador and Manchester United star Juan Mata (who was chosen to front this activation strand due his own personal commitment to supporting community causes through his work with Common Goal.


This also saw the auto brand create related content pieces and share them across Kia and UEFA’s social channels, as well as via Bleacher Report.






> Reach: 3,7m
> Views: 1,6m


Hero’s Walk At Home
> Reach: 2.1m
> Views: 1+m


> Impressions: 24m
> Views: 4.7m
> Engagement: 250+k


Trophy Tour


Social Statistics
> Total Reach: 12.8m
> Total Engagements (Likes, Comments, Shares): 1.6m


Number of visitors to the physical stops
> 2019/20 – 700+ across 2 stops (prior to lockdown)


Number of videos submitted for the remaining stops
> 60+ children submitted videos for the remaining stops


Total number of boots collected (2018-19 + 2019-20)
> 2019/20 – 1100+



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