Kia Morphia

Stunning anamorphic illusion introduces Kia’s new brand at the Australian Open.

  • Australian Open, Melbourne

Kia Morphia was a first-of-its-kind LED digital cube display introducing tennis fans at the 2021 Australian Open to the company’s new logo and brand direction. We used a 12m anamorphic display to explore the precision of movement with Rafael Nadal, the progress of movement in Kia’s new electric vehicles, and the power of movement in nature through an impressive Houdini wave simulation. With a dedicated viewing platform to complete the illusion, Kia Morphia gave audiences at the Australian Open and beyond an unforgettable immersive experience of the brand’s story.

A global brand launch


The 2021 Australian Open marked the 20th anniversary of Kia’s sponsorship of the event – one of the longest sporting partnerships in Australian history. To celebrate this, Kia was looking to create a landmark activation to give tennis fans an exciting, immersive experience of their new logo and brand direction.

While we’ve worked with Kia on the Australian Open for the past two years – with Kia Caraoke and Kia Beat the Beat – launching their new brand this year would require a creative shift. This activation would need to retain the adventurous spirit that we’ve always strived to capture, while reflecting the new maturity of their refreshed brand.

New Kia logo shown on the side of a shipping container at the Australian Open 2021.

Reaching audiences amid a pandemic


Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of public events and experiential marketing. The 2021 Australian Open was one of the first large-scale events to happen within this new landscape. As a result, Kia would need to adapt their on-ground presence to account for not just a changed visitor experience, but the inevitable uncertainties of working within a global pandemic.

Concept art for Kia Morphia experiential activation shows configuration of shipping containers.

Luckily, they weren’t about to shy away from this challenge. They realised that these limitations also presented an opportunity: to break away from what is expected, and in doing so engage with a much larger audience. Together, we were committed to finding a way to bring a first-of-its-kind experience to fans at the event and beyond.

World-class immersive installation


The result of this partnership was Kia Morphia: a stunning anamorphic installation designed to bring Kia’s new logo and brand direction to life like never before. Exploring Kia’s new vision statement – ‘movement that inspires’ – the immersive installation would use three dimensional anamorphic animations on a huge LED cube to reimagine the possibilities of movement.

Kia Morphia anamorphic illusion on 12m shipping container live at the Australian Open 2021.

Creative collaboration


To give ourselves the time to get the storyboards right, we conducted our R&D into the technology behind the installation at the same time. Collaboration within our team throughout this process also helped ensure that our creative vision and designs were informed by the technology that would bring them to life.

Collaboration beyond our team was also a core feature of our process. We worked closely with Kia and their marketing agency, Bastion, throughout the project to make sure our creative aligned with the brand’s overall vision. We also brought in animation experts MISTER to craft our visualisations so that each and every frame contributed to the overall story.

Designing sensory experiences

Creative Direction

For us, Kia Morphia was about taking audiences on an abstract, sensorial experience of Kia’s new brand. To do this, we conceptualised three different activations to be deployed on one huge LED canvas: one to study the grace and strength of tennis, another to look at the future of movement through electric vehicles, and the last to explore the raw power of movement in nature.

The idea for each of these experiences was to demonstrate how Kia is using movement to bring the future to life. Yet, because this would be the global launch of Kia’s new brand, we were one of the first few groups to actually use the branding. This meant we needed to play a very active role in defining the style of the new brand within the context of live events.

Refining the story


Because we were trying to tell the core story of Kia’s new brand through movement alone, the storyboard step in our process was crucial. We needed to map out each beat in our story to make sure each of our visualisations would be clear enough to communicate by themselves. If the storyboard couldn’t portray the story we were trying to tell, neither would the animation or editing.

Early storyboards for ‘Tennis in Motion’ animation created by creative studio S1T2 for Kia Morphia.

Stunning anamorphic illusions


Our idea was to use an ‘illusion point’ at the corner of these two screens to enhance the anamorphic display. When viewed from this point, the visualisation would appear to ‘break free’ – whether it's a tennis ball rushing at your head, an electric car gliding towards you, or a wave crashing over you.

While we designed the activating to look good from all angles, it was the illusion point that really sold the story. Here, audiences would be able to truly feel the message, rather than just seeing it. Watching each of the artworks, audiences would feel the grace and strength of each movement against the confines of its container, generating a sense of excitement and anticipation about what Kia plans for the future.

Tennis fans at the Australian Open walk past Kia Morphia anamorphic illusion.

Movement takes a physical form

Tennis in Motion

The opening content piece in Kia Morphia is ‘Tennis in Motion’. Here, we gave a physical form to the movements of tennis great Rafael Nadal through dynamic particle systems. In a three-dimensional study of motion, Nadal appears to teleport around the digital canvas with speed and grace, trails of coloured particles amplifying the speed and precision of his movements.

The first challenge was finding a way to make the two dimensional footage of Nadal feel at home within the 3D digital box. This had to do not only with the particle effects, but also the placement and choreography of Nadal’s image as it teleports throughout the space.

Then we used a series of particle systems to physically realise Nadal’s movements and their impact around the court. Experimenting with the pace of these particles and the 2D footage allowed us to create a visualisation that amplified the strong yet graceful motion of tennis.

Revealing a vision of the future

EV Evolution

The second Kia Morphia display, ‘EV Evolution’, was designed to explore the future of electric vehicles. While the goal of this piece was to show off Kia’s range of electric cars, we didn’t want to create a standard hi-vis vehicle render. We wanted to use particles and light to give audiences a sense of the vehicles and what they represent, so we decided to use an abstract wind tunnel visualisation – similar to what we created for the Macau Grand Prix Museum – to capture the energy and motion of electric vehicles.

Two women walk towards the Kia Morphia experiential marketing activation during bump in for the Australian Open 2021.

The core idea behind ‘EV Evolution’ was to use light to reveal Kia’s electric vehicles. Within the dark wind tunnel environment, scanning rays of light and emissive particles work to reveal one part of the vehicle at a time. This helped to create an air of mystery throughout the visualisation, introducing hints of the future rather than revealing it all at once.

Natural motion unleashed

Brand Movement

The final experience of Kia Morphia was titled ‘Brand Movement’, and was the ultimate demonstration of not only their new brand, but what our activation was capable of. The idea was to express Kia’s bold, premium new branding through the powerful forces of nature. Standing at the illusion point, audiences would feel as though the wave was crashing over them. This was the most impressive of our illusions, surprising and intriguing audiences as the power of nature – like Kia – burst forth from its enclosure.

Recreating the natural world

Physics Simulations

To actually create this stunning scene required some creative thinking. With the help of the animation team at Mister & Mister, we created a water simulation trapped within a carefully calibrated replica of our final physical build. Then we let gravity do its thing, rotating and manipulating the box to generate the captivating visuals we desired.

The challenge with this, of course, is getting epic, powerful waves within such a shallow space. To achieve the constant flow of motion and nice barrel wave shapes within the confines of the container, we ended up increasing and decreasing the amount of water actually present. This gave us a level of artistic control over the simulation, while still allowing it to behave as naturally as possible.

Amplifying reach and engagement


Kia Morphia was the landmark experiential marketing activation throughout the two week 2021 Australian Open. It was launched at the beginning of the tournament by leading tennis players Dylan Alcott and Nick Kyrios, along with top executives from Kia Australia. The launch event was also live streamed to audiences around Australia.

Kia Morphia grabbed attention, was highly shareable, premium and visually stunning; all of which help carry the new brand reveal further.

Dean Norbiato
Kia Australia Marketing Manager

While the pandemic resulted in considerable changes to the Australian Open experience – including a 5 day circuit-breaker lockdown in the middle of the tournament – Kia Morphia represented a flexible experiential marketing solution. The installation’s focus on stunning visuals in addition to its impressive structure saw it engage not only tennis-goers but also those tuning in at home on TV or social media.

Tennis players Dylan Alcott and Nick Kyrios open the Kia Morphia anamorphic illusion at the Australian Open 2021.

The future of brand storytelling

Future Potential

Beyond the Australian Open, the Kia Morphia activation is set to tour both Sydney and Brisbane as an iconic brand experience. This success shows that the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with a global pandemic calls not for an abandonment of experiential marketing, but an evolution of its potential. Indeed, focusing on strong brand storytelling and a compelling audience experience represents an opportunity for future-thinking brands to secure deeper engagement and interaction from ever-wider audiences.

Water simulation displayed on Kia Morphia anamorphic illusion from creative experience studio S1T2.
Kia Morphia Visualisation.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates and insights about Kia Morphia and other S1T2 projects.

Welcome to the party