Advertisers are signing up for eSports to compete for GenZ’s attention, check out the brands on our watch list.
Creators of Tik Toks. Enjoyers of energy drinks. Masters of memes. You know who we’re talking about – GenZ. In addition to these hallmarks, they’re known as the first generation to grow up on eSports, in a world where gaming competition is so fierce that parents have literally enlisted tutors to up their kids’ Fortnite skills.
Last year we at Winmo released a report detailing key players in the rapidly growing eSports space, and now, by popular demand, we’ve rounded up a new group of advertisers signing up to compete for gamers’ attention, either with league sponsorships, game tie-ins, or ads on streaming platforms – with key insights from Winmo to help you qualify them for partnership opportunities.
While some of these brands have hitched their wagons to eSports properties directly, others are simply known to target eSports gamers as a demographic. Ad sellers and sponsorship sellers catering to a GenZ audience should both take note of these opportunities, as should agencies and other service providers specializing in youth marketing.
1. Jones Soda: Launches new flavors, sponsors eSports race amid global pandemic
Jones has become a corporate sponsor of The Race All-Star Esports Battle, a virtual event created in the wake of major motorsport cancellations due to the pandemic. The race’s inaugural week had a combined total of 12.1 million views on The Race’s YouTube channel.
Since hiring marketing VP Maisie Antoniello last year, Jones Soda continued building out its marketing leadership, and product lines. The company launched a CBD-infused expansion, and its execs plan to make marketing investments throughout 2020.
Jones currently relies heavily on earned and social media in order to reach millennials, gen-Z and teenagers; however, it might branch out to new media channels under a new marketing team. From a media perspective, sellers of paid social, OTT and/or podcast ad space should reach out.
WINMO INSIGHT: Jones’ social audience composition supports its eSports play, with a majority falling in the 18 to 24-year-old range, and indexing high for Gamers.
2. Acer’s Predator brand: Expands partnership with Envy Gaming, ups digital spend
Acer has expanded its partnership with Dallas-based Envy Gaming, according to eSportsObserver. The Taiwanese computer-maker is known to the gaming world for its Predator gaming line, which was named the official computer and monitor partner for Envy Gaming’s Dallas Fuel. Future plans for the partnership include the Predator Gaming Lounge at Envy headquarters, which will be used for local watch parties, tournaments, and K-12 seminars covering esports.
WINMO INSIGHT: In the past two months we’ve seen digital ad spend spike significantly for Acer’s Predator brand, with a vast majority placed directly. Ads have appeared on sites such as gamespot.com and minecraft.gamepedia.com.
3. Axe leads Unilever’s foray into eSports
At the end of 2019, male grooming brand Axe released their first-ever eSports campaign, which debuted at the League of Legends (LoL) 2019 World Championship. The campaign, named “What’s Your Move,” was developed by 72andSunny, and consisted of a 30-second video ad starring a talking Axe can declaring “Behold, the world ender,” when sprayed. (It’s a popular line from LoL, if you’re not a gamer).
Axes’ parent company, Unilever, has been testing new ad formats, such as audio streaming ads on Spotify. Their 2019 media spend was concentrated in the first half of the year, and we expect that to continue in 2020.
Axe’s target audiences are male millennials and Gen Z, particularly teenagers. We expect their recent decrease in TV spend to continue as they shift funds to digital and other experiential mediums. The multiyear partnership with LoL includes events such as the Mid-Season Invitational (Q2) and All-Star Event (Q4).
WINMO INSIGHT: Looking for an “in” with Axe? Mark Lodwick is the Brand Director per Winmo (we have his digits and email if you need them) – here’s a snapshot of his personality profile for any sellers hoping to make a good impression:
4. Bumble: Teaming up with girl gamers
Late last year our WinmoEdge analysts reported that Los Angeles’s esports company Gen.G teamed up with dating site Bumble to create an all-female professional Fortnite group called Team Bumble.
The gender angle makes this partnership an interesting one, as the female gamer market is a growing segment that’s often been neglected by marketers, one which Bumble will be able to exploit through its eSports partnership.
Bumble spent roughly $4.9 million on measured media last year, per Kantar, primarily on out-of-home and digital. Here are a few of their latest digital creatives:
5. BMW reaches future luxury car owners through eSports
Talk about the long game. In a monumental move to capture the attention of GenZ (and Millenials), carmaker BMW just launched a partnership with five gaming organizations around the globe, including Cloud9 in the United States and Fnatic in the U.K.
Sure, it might take a while for one of these gamers to be able to afford a luxury German-made set of wheels, but “In the long term, esports will be our biggest footprint,” Stefan Ponikva, head of BMW Brand Experience Shows & Events, told Forbes. “The younger generation, being born digital-first, doesn’t really care about TV or traditional advertising. Esports is our tool to reach them.”
The move reflects an effort to get the attention of gamers involved in titles such as League of Legends, Fortnite and FIFA, and includes social, content collaborations, and branding exposure.
WINMO INSIGHT: According to the audience demographic insight in Winmo, this is fertile ground for BMW:
This play should make a dent in the 18-24 year old demographic that BMW is under-indexing for, and we might even see ad buys in GenZ- and Millennial-leaning publications in the coming months to support.
5. Turtle Beach promoting 2020 product launches with higher marketing spend
This one is an under-the-radar up-and-comer to add to your watch list. Audio tech brand Turtle Beach (TB) expanded its PC product portfolio in 2019 and will continue to support new product launches with brand marketing into 2020 and 2021, according to execs in its Q4 earnings call. We expect the company’s spend to either temporarily drop, or shift to focus on its e-Commerce business as consumers practice social distancing as a result of the global pandemic.
In order to reach millennial and Gen-Z men, TB typically relies heavily on digital marketing and sponsorship opportunities. While we haven’t heard of particular eSports partnerships, we know that the brand targets gamers (last year, most ads were placed site direct – $318.2k- primarily onto pcgamesn.com) as part of its strategy to target Gen-Z and millennial men. Its marketing spend for 2020 will likely promote its e-Commerce business, with support expected from digital display and social media.
While the company hasn’t yet placed digital display ads in 2020, it usually doesn’t spend much on ads until Q4, ahead of the holiday season; we expect it to return to this channel in Q4 2020.
6. Abercrombie & Fitch focuses on digital channels
Abercrombie & Fitch is tapping into the eSports world, not through a particular corporate partnership, but through its notable advertising on Twitch – the live streaming site made popular by gamers. Although there have been a plethora of new uses for Twitch, it remains synonymous with online game streaming.
A&F’s Twitch spend is indicative of an overall shift we’ve seen from the brand, which according to iSpot, hasn’t allocated budget towards national TV programming since it spent $1.8 million in late 2017.
The company spends on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Spotify, and we expect it to continue this focus as it aims to drive eCommerce activity right now. (P.S. If you’re looking for more brands boosting eCommerce amidst the pandemic, check out our post).
WINMO INSIGHT: For media sellers looking to reach AF, we’ve got The Richards Group as their primary AOR, with a few other relationships noted below.
So there you have it! Six brands gaming for GenZ’s attention through the world of eSports.
If you benefited from the type of actionable insight we delivered here, we’d love to surface more leads for you, with sales intelligence that helps you perfect your pitch.
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