KUKA Roboter


The Timo Boll – KR AGILUS Duel Heard ‘Round the World

KUKA Robotics, the world’s third largest industrial robot manufacturer, is a dynamic company that is constantly pushing the envelope with its innovative products as well as marketing initiatives.  The HQ has worked with effective world since 2009 for its global online marketing strategy.  In order to promote the first factory opening in China, effective world developed a highly targeted and multi-faceted international online marketing campaign involving video, search, social media, and outreach for the inaugural event on March 11th, 2014


The Goal

To reach mass appeal and recognition in the Chinese and Asian Pacific markets, KUKA Robotics formed a partnership with the German table tennis star Timo Boll, who is already well known in China.  The campaign revolved around the concept of “The Duel,” wherein Timo Boll faces off against the KUKA AGILUS robot in a table tennis match—which would be pre-recorded and air at the grand opening of the factory.  To promote both the table tennis match and the factory opening, effective world created a viral online marketing campaign designed to raise the brand awareness of KUKA in China, as well as to highlight the factory opening and create interest about “The Duel” and KUKA’s line of fast, precise, and flexible robots.


The Plan

The effective team in both Shanghai and Mannheim incorporated different online channels to push the trailer for the “The Duel” locally in China as well as globally. Given the complex nature of international marketing campaigns, it was important to choose the right method for each market to generate the most buzz and traffic to the microsite. In China, effective relied on two popular social media channels, Sina Weibo and Tencent Wechat, to engage users in different target groups—such as table tennis enthusiasts, robotics and technology engineers, and science fiction fans.  Weibo was used primarily for disseminating content using the public profiles of both Timo Boll and KUKA Robotics, complimented by CPM advertising and microblogging.  Wechat was used as a live news transmission platform during the actual opening ceremony of the factory.


The Result

This tandem of paid advertising, content marketing, and viral video proved to be a winning combination for KUKA Robotics in China. Despite ultimately losing the table tennis duel, KUKA Robotics was able to dramatically increase its brand awareness in the Chinese market and get a leg up on its competitors.  Thanks to the campaign, the number of followers of KUKA Robotics in Weibo was greater than its biggest competitor. Furthermore, Baidu search rankings for KUKA Robotics and “automation” searches increased, as well as a doubling of the number of clicks on paid advertising (both video and text) in the months leading up to “The Duel.”  In addition to these online success stories, Chinese TV stations including CCTV and SHTV, picked up the story, running several pieces about the “The Duel” and the factory opening in Shanghai.


Download: KUKA: Going Viral in China  (PDF 1 MB)




“For the past five years, the effective world group has been managing our global online marketing campaigns. With the opening of the new KUKA factory in China, effective world was able to develop one of the most successful vertical marketing campaigns in the automation industry. 


The local support in both Germany and China from effective world has proved to be quite valuable.  They have a convincing combination of online marketing knowledge and B2B competence in the Chinese market.”


Boris Dolkhani, Head of Corporate Marketing, KUKA Roboter GmbH