Esports Edition: 10 Brands With The Gold Advantage
At the Lollapalooza Music Festival last weekend Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the first Twitch streamer to reach 10 million followers, live streamed Fortnite from the inaugural “Lollapalooza Gaming Lounge” alongside a host of A-list celebrities. A few weekends ago the Overwatch League’s #TheFirstFinals was played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Barclays Center, where London Spitfire swept Philadelphia Fusion. The esports estravaganza attracted the likes of DJ Khaled and Jon Bon Jovi. And, in the past year superstar athletes like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Odell Beckham, Jr. have invested in esports organizations and clubs. Esports has gone celebrity — and sponsors are jumping at the chance to partner with players and clubs to drive revenue, influence, awareness, and a whole new level of cool.
Esports, long dominated by endemic sponsors like energy drink brands Monster Energy or AiReload, gaming headwear brand HyperX, and gaming equipment brands Alienware, Vertagear, Asus, and Corsair, is attracting traditional sponsors (think Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Hyundai, Mountain Dew, T-Mobile — you get the drill). In Blinkfire’s platform, we’re seeing more and more non-endemic brands involved with esports organizations, clubs, and players — as these brands receive exposure in different markets while also targeting a younger, extremely engaged audience.
Since we’re the shotcaller (how could we not add in some gaming lingo?!) of this blog post, there’s one thought about endemic versus non-endemic brands we want to throw out there before you get cruising on our list. With so many eyeballs on esports as pro gaming snowballs (and, another one), does the type of brand really matter? Sponsors will flock to where the most eyeballs are because eyeballs = 💰💰 💰 , so is there a need to separate endemic versus non-endemic? In our best Linda Richman voice from SNL’s Coffee Talk, “Esports brands are neither endemic nor non-endemic. Discuss.”
And with that, here’s our list of 10 brands (non-endemic, endemic, or not — you decide) making a huge splash in esports through activations like jersey and sleeve sponsor, digital assets, and in-game stream clipping. GLHF.
1. Mountain Dew
The go-to-beverage for long road trips and all-nighters hit the esports market partnering with the likes of SK Gaming, Splyce, Immortals, Team Dignitas, ESL Gaming, and LVP. Mountain Dew’s brand activations range from jersey and score graphic sponsor to in-game stream clipping and the official MtnDew Twitch channel.
Hungry? Grab a Snickers. Snickers’ partnership activations have been nothing short of epic — yes, we’re referring to that 2010 Super Bowl commercial with Betty White and Abe Vigoda. Well, now the delicious treat is entering the esports space as a sponsor to Rocket League and Fly Quest for social media assets like MVP of the Week and Match Recap.
Most wouldn’t think of a global shipping brand partnering with esports teams and leagues, but that’s just what DHL has done. DHL is creatively and strategically positioning its brand as the official logistics partner of the ESL. You can see the brand during in-game stream clipping throughout ESL’s tournaments and via the campaign #MomentsThatDeliver.
4. Dr. Pepper
While some non-endemic brands often choose to go the league sponsorship route, Dr. Pepper went the team route as an official sponsor of Team SoloMid. They also won the internet by creating this awesome YouTube video which makes us slightly nostalgic for the 90s and our love of Power Rangers.
adidas isn’t just in the business of sponsoring the World Cup, David Beckham, sports teams, and Kanye. It’s also an official apparel sponsor of numerous esports clubs like Team Vitality, G Lab Penguins, North, and Team Roccat.
Of all the non-endemic brands to enter the esports frontier, Geico might seem slightly out of place (unless you’re playing Rocket League), but the car insurance company has made it work — from sponsoring Team SoloMid and PandaGlobal to being the title sponsor of the Eleague.
T-Mobile is well-known in the soccer world as the jersey sponsor for Bundesliga team FC Bayern, but the German phone company is betting on esports. T-Mobile is not only the official sponsor of the Overwatch League, but also the Houston Outlaws.
Move over New England Patriots and FC Barcelona — Gillette, the teams’ razor sponsor, has gone esports. In the past year, Gillette’s partnered with ESL, Team SoloMid, Boston Uprising, and the most famous LoL player in the world xPeke. Football and soccer players aren’t the only ones who require a good, clean shave.
9. Domino’s Pizza
Fast food pizza brand Domino’s is delivering (see what we did?) as the headline sponsor for the Gfinity Challenger Series using partnership activations that include step and repeats, digital assets, and players’ jersey sleeve sponsor.
Vodafone, another telecommunications company, enters the esports sponsorship market as the premier partner of the ESL and Vodafone Giants. Yep, they are the naming sponsor for the spanish esports club. Smart move or rather “meta”?