Business of branding and eSports

Last week we spoke about the emergence of eSports and why brands need to be involved.

eSports is competitive online gaming and its reach is massive. People can compete from their living room and fill stadiums with people who buy tickets to watch two sets of teams compete in video games against each other. Madness you say? Many of us believe Donald Trump should be committed, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting within spitting distance of the White House.

On a global scale brands are clambering to get onboard, their role isn’t to judge the eSports industry, it’s to be in the same room as the people who love it and to be seen to support their interests.

These aren’t niche brands either, Coca-Cola, American Express, General Mills, Mountain Dew and Geico Insurance have invested significant time, money and resource to secure a seat at the eSports table.

Financial Brands
In 2013 American Express and Riot Games collaborated to create a League of Legends branded card.

Closer to home, St George Bank in Australia has signed up to be Presenting Partner for Season Two of ESL’s National Championships in Australia and New Zealand.


We’re really excited to be the first bank to jump on board this fantastic partnership… … Gaming connects all generations and St.George is proud to support this emerging trend and be part of the eSports community. 

— General Manager of Retail Banking, Ross Miller 

Fast Food Brands
Starting off with 500 attendees in 2011, Rooster's Teeth RTX gaming festival now sees 60,000 people attend. Clearly impressed, Pizza Hut jumped at the opportunity to return as key sponsor and repordedly paid $1m for the pleasure. Not content to own one part of the online gaming industry, the Hut have also sponsored ESPNs Fantasy Football team.

Pizza Hut played a key role in organizing a classic video game competition as well as supplying the pizza.

We want them engaged with our fans, so the sponsorship is more than just having branding splattered all over the convention. 

 — Alan Abdine, Rooster Teeth’s senior vice president of business development

Insurance Brands
What do insurance and eSports have in common? I have no idea, but The Government Employees Insurance Company, better known as GEICO sponsors Team SoloMid and the One Nation of Gamers (ONOG) Hearthstone tournament series.

The fact that there is no obvious connection is evidence of the reach and penetration that eSports provides.

GEICO have commissioned an entertaining mini-series of videos to show case Team SoloMid, as well as that they've had a go at creating snackable 30 second pieces of native content. Credit to them for not just slapping a logo on a backdrop.

Which New Zealand insurance brand do I think would be the perfect fit? It would have to be someone who has a product targeted to 'young' people. My pick would be AMI for the Renters Insurance and Young Drivers Insurance! Quick someone forward this to AMI's head of marketing and communication, Merran Anderson. 

Nutrition Brands
If you ask a New Zealand high school rugby player why they want to play for the First XV, somewhere near the top of the list will be because they want to be seen on TV, more specifically Land Rover First XV on Sky Sport.

The collegiate eSports scene in the United States is massive and the players, like in New Zealand want their 15 minutes of fame!

Robert Morris University is leading the charge and this year will provide in excess of $1.5m of eSports scholarships. Quest Nutrition, the leading health foods manufacturer in North America, announced a partnership with RMU to provide their products to foster a healthier lifestyle for their gaming athletes.

Robert Morris University Eagles eSports and Quest Nutrition

About the author
Kaleb Francis is a Digital Strategist and has developed a reputation as a thought leader. Kaleb's agency Marque, created the brand and website for Let's Play Live - Australasia's Home of eSports.