9 Brands Jumping Into the Esports Arena

July 23, 2019

Slated to reach $1.1 billion by the end of this year, with a global audience of 453.8 million people, the Esports industry is growing exponentially. As competition mounts, so do opportunities for marketers to capitalize on the Esports phenomenon through sponsorships, media, and marketing revenue opportunities. 

While most revenue lies in the sponsorship realm, other advertising channels are on the rise as teams look to engage new audiences and expand their presence. For example, Esports teams are looking to increase awareness through channels such as experiential, social, digital, branding, merchandising and more. 

So, how do you get involved in the industry gaming for your attention? Well, now’s your chance. With continued growth on the horizon, now is the time for you to explore potential relationships with marketers staking their claim in the space. 

To help get you started, we’ve collected nine brands that are jumping into the Esports arena and where the opportunity lies.

If you find these opportunities valuable, download our ebook to get actionable insight on key leagues, sponsors, upcoming events, teams, and publishers plus five imminent sales opportunities to pursue now. 

1. Gillette Establishes Global Marketing Partnership with Twitch 

Men’s shaving product maker Gillette announced a global marketing partnership with Amazon’s streaming video service, Twitch. The “Gillette Gaming Alliance” will allow 11 Twitch streamers from 11 countries across the globe to represent Gillette and create relevant content for their specific viewers. 

The brand also agreed to develop a fan experience for the TwitchCon Europe taking place in Berlin last April. This partnership marks Gillette’s widest-ranging Esports sponsorship yet. The brand first entered the arena through a 2017 sponsorship with the ESL. 

Sponsorship Opportunity: Gillette is clearly making an effort to get involved in the Esports space. With a history of partnerships, don’t hesitate to reach out with ways to get Gillette in front of new audiences. 

Media Seller Opportunity: Spend for the brand typically spikes during Q2-Q4. Keep in mind the target demographic consists largely of millennials and Gen-Z. US media spend has seen increases historically, so sellers are encouraged to reach out in order to remain top-of-mind. 

Request a Demo for Access to Gillette Decision-Makers 

2. Jack in the Box Increases Non-traditional Media, Launches Esports Series 

In order to reverse sales struggles, Jack In the Box has created a strategic plan to focus on value creation. Part of this plan includes a heavier focus on marketing, particularly using more data and analytics along with investments in more non-traditional media. 

The non-traditional media includes influencers, a tactic Jack in the Box has used in the past. Another addition is a six-part animated web series supporting Jack in the Box’s sponsorship of Esports team Dallas Fuel. The episodes, developed by creative AOR David&Goliath, have been airing on digital and social platforms on a weekly basis through platforms such as Gamespot, Reddit, and Xbox. According to sources, the partnership includes experiential efforts as well. 

Media Seller Opportunity: Look for revenue tied to these initiatives, but spend increases will likely not occur since we estimate Jack in the Box’s struggles are too significant to support any new marketing initiatives. However, look for more revenue available during Q1 and Q4, when spend typically spikes. Also keep an eye out for a shift in target audience towards millennials and Gen-Z, especially men with an Esports focus. Those near the chain’s locations may have an advantage. 

Sponsorship Opportunity: According to Hookit, Jack in the Box has sponsorships with the Portland Winterhawks, The San Jose Earthquakes and the Houston Dynamo in addition to Dallas Fuel. Sponsorship sellers in other markets should take note of the types of activations it has done in the past with these players, such as the web series detailed above.

Agency and Martech Opportunity: CMO Iwona Alter departed last September. Her replacement has not yet been named, but Jack in the Box did hire a number of other personnel, signaling strategy shifts to come. When reaching out, competition will include Cashmere on digital and social, David&Goliath on creative, and Carat on media. 

Request a Demo for Jack in the Box Decision-Maker Contact Info 

3. MasterCard Hires Three Marketing VPs, Launches Global Campaign 

MasterCard strengthened its marketing team with three VPs, along with promotions and lower-level shifts as well. Chief Experience Officer Donald Chestnut was also brought on the team in January. 

Agency and Martech Readers: With all of the leadership shifts, strategies and relationships will likely be evaluated within the next 12-18 months. Keep in mind competition will include McCann New York as creative AOR and Carat New York on media. 

Sponsorship Opportunity: In order to appeal to younger consumers, MasterCard has a new logo, slogan, and most significantly a multi-year, global partnership with Riot Games and it’s League of Legends Sports series. MasterCard offers live-event activations and fan experiences across three major tournaments and is also releasing a co-branded League of Legends credit card. 

Media Seller Opportunity: With spend increases imminent, sellers are encouraged to reach out, especially with the new initiatives in order to expand into new markets. Top spending periods fluctuate, and MasterCard typically uses experiential, social, outdoor, print and radio. 

Request a Demo for MasterCard Decision-Maker Contact Info 

4. NBA Loses CMO Amid Digital, Social Shift 

In December 2018, the NBA announced the retirement of CMO Pam El, and began searching for her replacement. There have also been numerous lower-level personnel shifts over the past year. 

Agency and Martech Opportunity: El’s replacement is likely to review agency relationships, so agency and martech readers with sports experience should get on their radar and begin reaching out to lower personnel. The NBA’s creative roster includes WongDoody, Translation, The Marketing Arm and Ready Set Rocket. Their media roster is comprised solely of Starcom Worldwide. Focus pitches on ways to engage Gen-Z and millennials, considering their audience growth is led by young adults. 

Sponsorship Opportunity: The NBA invests heavily in sponsorships, and recently initiated a partnership with ReadyUp in an effort to help eSports fans track their favorite players. 

Media Seller Opportunity: With spend increases likely, sellers are encouraged to reach out. Those with the ability to reach male millennials and Gen-Z will have the advantage. Spend typically spikes around basketball season from October to June. 

Request a Demo for NBA Decision-Maker Contact Info 

5. Nissan Names New Marketing Chief Amid Struggles, Digital Shift 

Reported in March, Nissan selected Allyson Witherspoon as the VP of marketing communications & media role (brand CMO function). Nissan also brought on a number of lower-level personnel in an effort to combat sales declines and supports its “Move to 2022” initiative. 

In order to reach these goals, Nissan has already made strides to appeal to the next generation of consumers, millennials and Gen-Z. It launched a connected car service and also initiated partnerships with Esports teams OpTic Gaming and FaZe Clan. It has also shifted to a focus from offline channels into digital and social ones. 

Agency and Martech Opportunity: Agency changes are likely with all of the shifts in leadership, so reach out with pitches with ways to stand out from Ford, Honda and Toyota. Expect competition from TBWA ChiatDay, Zimmerman, OMD, and fluent360. 

Media Seller Opportunity: Nissan is making a huge effort to engage younger consumers using strategic partnerships and digital and social investments. Those with the ability to reach these audiences have the best chance of securing revenue. Nissan typically has a male skew, and also keep an eye on new products such as the 2020 Versa. 

Request a Demo for Nissan Decision-Maker Contact Info 

6. Pringles Expanding Esports Sponsorships to Expand Audience 

In an effort to become the number one snack for Esports players, Kellogg Company’s Pringles has nearly doubled its investments in sponsorships relevant to the industry. The brand began with a 2017 partnership with ESL at it’s One Hamburg event, followed by two additional sponsorship events the following year. 

Pringles now plans to sponsor ESL tournaments throughout 13 European countries, working with German marketing agency Jung von Matt on its Esports work. The sponsorships will consist of digital ads, logo placements, and event booths. 

Pringles’ interest in online gamer audiences is a result of an effort to attract a younger consumer along with a global mindset. The brand’s marketing investment in 2019 is 80% more than what it spent last year, and it is still evaluating other Esports teams to sponsor. 

Media Seller Opportunity: Pringles’ spend is historically highest throughout Q3 and prior to product launches. Keep in mind the target demographic is made up of mostly male millennials. 

Agency and Martech Opportunity: With an agency review likely within the next few months, agency and martech readers are encouraged to continue to reach out for potential work. Grey Group has handled creative since 2013, Starcom Worldwide has handled media buying & planning since 2006, both much longer than average agency tenure. 

Request a Demo for Pringles Decision-Maker Contact Info 

7. Sennheiser Electronics Taps Marketing Heads, AOR for Consumer Division 

In the consumer division, Stefanie Reichert was promoted to global head of marketing execution (brand CMO function), effective January. Sennheiser also tapped MullenLowe Group as its global AOR, effective January. 

Overall, budget across the brand has been low, but will likely increase under the new personnel and the new agency. Spend will also likely go up in an effort to promote various new products. 

Sennheiser just became the official audio partner for Esports team San Francisco Shock. It also already sponsors Esports organizations SK Gaming, Rush Gaming and Newbee. In the past, it has sponsored Esports events such as the Super Smash Bros Melee Summit. 

Request a Demo for Sennheiser Electronics Decision-Maker Contact Info 

8. Telemundo Reveals First American-based Spanish Esports Channel 

Telemundo Communications Group is unveiling an Esports channel. According to sources, this will be the first US-based digital Esports channel, which will initially launch through YouTube and Twitch. In addition to the release of the new channel, Telemundo is collaborating with EA Sports to stream it’s FIFA19 Global Series events. 

Last Q1-Q3, Telemundo spend $4.3 million on measured media according to sources. Broadcast was the top channel with nearly $2 million, followed by out-of-home at $1.5 million. Print, radio and digital channels also supported efforts. 

Media Seller Opportunity: Sellers with the capability to engage a largely Hispanic audience should contact Spark Foundry for the chance to be a part of future initiatives. Spend typically spikes during Q2 and Q3. The main demographic consists largely of millennials and Gen-X. 

Request a Demo for Telemundo Decision-Maker Contact Info 

9. Tilly’s Taps Marketing VP Amid Continued Focus on Loyalty, Experiential, Local 

Teen retailer Tilly’s tapped Heather Nyoklaychuk as it’s head and VP of Marketing, effective December. In the new role, she will be responsible for driving brand awareness, store traffic, and loyalty. 

Agency and Martech Opportunity: With a new marketing lead in place, agency and martech readers with fashion experience are encouraged to reach out. Reviews are likely within the next 12-18 months. Focus pitches on building brand awareness with bolstered loyalty and local marketing, a strategy in place that will likely continue. 

Media Seller Opportunity: In an effort to improve customer-facing technology, the retailer plans to launch an expanded loyalty program, an enhanced mobile app, a same-day delivery program, and also new ship to store initiative. 

Experiential is still a heavy focus as the store opens more pop-ups for its RSQ brand. It also plans to promote its new partnership with the High School Esports League with a two-week, all-store augmented reality event. 

Expect an emphasis on local marketing events as Tilly’s works to open 10 to 15 new full-size stores throughout 2019. All of these shifts should reverse spend declines, so sellers should reach out in order to stay on the radar for imminent spend increases. Keep in mind the target demographic is Gen-Z, especially those near specific locations.

Request a Demo for Tilly’s Decision-Maker Contact Info 

Ready for more insight into Esports industry? Check out league, team, publisher and sponsor information in our new ebook: Esport Brands Gaming for Your Attention in 2019.

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