Esports offers incredible opportunities for brands to get involved. But the rules are different from its more traditional counterparts.
Getting your brand involved in esports doesn’t have to be a high risk, high reward strategy. Over the past five years, non endemic brands have searched extensively for a means to reach the illusive millennial audience; for many, ‘esports’ returned as the definitive answer.
As an industry growing at a near exponential rate, esports has presented a host of opportunities for brands looking to get involved in the phenomenon. There are those who have capitalised, Coca Cola for example, one of the first to move into the space through event sponsorship, hosting tournaments and facilitating fan experiences. For too many though, the unchartered waters of esports have proved treacherous, causing irreparable damage to brands’ reputation as a result of the scene’s no-nonsense community.
As Matt Wolf, VP for Coke’s entertainment ventures and gaming noted, the key to reaching esports fans is to: “really understand them and, in a way, be one of them” by ensuring marketing “is organic and natural”. “If it is, you get unbelievable loyalty and praise… if it’s not, you can get some pretty serious toxic backlash.”
For the likes of Coke, who possess the resources to sponsor large esports events, the most important element is ensuring that the brand puts itself in the right places, sponsoring the right events for their target audience. Many smaller brands, however, have opted to pursue the route of esports content. If anything, this avenue can reap even greater rewards than outright sponsorship, yet so often, brands make the fatal error of misunderstanding the esports audience.
Just ask VICE GM, Hosi Simon. In 2015, VICE attempted to transition its media outlet, identifying the potential of the esports content space. VICE learned the hard way that the esports content space cannot be so easily exploited, after producing a documentary that was universally condemned by the esports and gaming communities:
As Simon remarked in reflection: “It’s one of the most hard-fought, earnest, passionate, harshest cultures out there. You can’t actually afford any sort of missteps.“. VICE has since left esports well alone. To succeed with esports content, brands need to ensure that they are speaking their audience’s languages, showing that they genuinely share fans’ passion for what was once a condemned sub-culture.
The Players’ Lobby provides that opportunity. By utilising established connections within the industry, TPL produces articles presented through the voice of esports’ top athletes; the authoritative voices of esports. Producing content that genuinely resonates with its target audience, The Players’ Lobby presents brands with a unique outlet through which to reach access one of media’s most difficult to navigate spaces.
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