How To Level Up Your Sponsorship Strategy

October 27th, 2016 Posted by Sponsorship, Sports, Thoughts 0 comments on “How To Level Up Your Sponsorship Strategy”

Originally published by ACA

There’s a new player in the Canadian sponsorship landscape and it’s one that already possesses enough clout to pack the Air Canada Centre with 15,000 screaming fans. Boasting 214 million viewers annually and attracting a larger audience than the World Series, eSports is one of the fastest growing sports and entertainment platforms in the world. While in Canada it is still in its infancy, brands are beginning to recognize the opportunities that lie within competitive video game tournaments.

Why eSports?

Demographically, eSports offers access to the coveted millennial age group with 65% of fans falling between the ages of 18 and 35. Furthermore, according to Superdata Research, eSport enthusiasts hold strong purchasing power with an average household income of US$76,000 per year1. The sport’s digital origins mean that there is an array of activation possibilities, with fans enjoying both live events as well as traditional and online broadcasting.

Unfamiliar territory?

Marketers with a sports background are in luck, as the sponsorship structure of eSports follows a similar form to traditional, offering the ability to partner with tournaments, events, teams and even individual players. The MEC Consumer Pulse report shows that by the end of 2016, global sponsorship revenues for eSports will reach US$661 million, a mere 11% less than the NBA’s total for the 2014-2015 season2.

Not sexy enough?

A recent report by Mindshare states that 60% of eSports enthusiasts see teams and their players as moderate or major celebrities3. With top players garnering large social media followings, brand endorsements are still very appropriate with these influencers.

What should you be thinking about?

Here are a few things to consider before jumping into an eSports partnership:

1. Align your brand to the experience

Like any sponsorship, finding utility for your brand within the consumer’s experience is paramount to its success. With numerous communication channels and opportunities for partnership, find a way to integrate your brand into the enthusiasts’ consumption behaviour. For example, in Duracell’s The Longest Lasting Tournament, the brand partnered with eSports leader Twitch to showcase its battery’s strength by hosting a 26-hour, non-stop Madden NFL 15 tournament.

2. Focus in on the most relevant opportunity

Where eSports differs from traditional sports and entertainment properties is the sheer amount of opportunity that lies within the consumption channels and game genres. Focus in on what makes the most sense for the brand by doing research and understanding where to add value to both the partner and consumer. In Canada, Bell is leading the pack as it entered into a title sponsorship with Northern Arena, Canada’s largest eSports tournament organization.

3. It’s not right for every brand

While eSports is certainly an attractive means of speaking to a clearly-targeted demographic, it’s not right for every brand. Video game content has an expansive range of inappropriateness. Therefore, depending on the partner, not all of it may be relevant or well-received by your consumers. Moreover, it’s not just traditional brands investing in the sport. Companies such as adult websites have seen the value in eSports, so it’s important to note whose logo your brand will be next to in the lock up.

Long gone are the days when video games were only enjoyed in the comfort of a basement rec room. Now, teams compete for prize pools up to $20 million. The future of multiplayer entertainment is here, and it goes by the name of eSports.

1 “Worldwide esports market report,” SuperData Research, July 2016.
2 “MEC Consumer Pulse,” MEC, July 2016.
3 “2016 Culture Vulture Trends report,” Mindshare North America, 2016.
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Sean Goodall

Written by Sean Goodall

Senior Account Executive