May 7, 2019 / By Sade Ayodele
This post is part two of our series, “Esports vs. Gaming.” If you missed part one, please check it out here, as it’s an introduction to the differences between esports and gaming. Now that we have established the key differences, let’s highlight some guiding principles to activate in the respective spaces.
Whether you’re currently activating in esports or new to the space, one thing is for certain – esports is here to stay. With Millennial and Gen Z audiences becoming increasingly difficult to reach through traditional channels, esports represents a unique opportunity for brands to engage with this elusive demographic.
One of the biggest misconceptions and mistakes that brands are making is the assumption that a fan of one esports title is a fan of them all. While it is often assumed that all esports fans have the same habits and influencers, a close analysis highlights notable nuances across fans. And, while the allure of reaching a global audience is strong, it’s important that marketers don’t paint them with a broad-brush.
Below are some guiding principles for brands looking to activate in the space:
Authenticity: Gamers as a whole view ads as a direct interruption to the content they are watching – they aren’t conditioned to anticipate commercials like viewers of traditional sports. Fans show incredible loyalty to brands that authentically promote gaming as something bigger than a basement activity, and backlash strongly to those that don’t. Because this audience is a particularly hard one to reach, you have to be more clever than a typical sports sponsorship.
Credibility: In addition to being authentic, it’s equally imperative to be credible. When activating, if you get it wrong, that’s it — game over. Brands have to take their time. While it’s easier for endemic brands, like Intel, SAP and Logitech, that are embedded in gaming culture to enter the market, it doesn’t mean that non-endemic brands or emerging endemic brands can’t play a role. However, it’s important that you take your time and truly understand the space, rather than rushing in. And while it may be intriguing to go all in, it takes time to build credibility within the community. Brands can do this by creating a sustainable plan, year over year, and not disappearing after one test-and-learn. See what works and then scale up.
Inclusion: One of the biggest issues in gaming – and even more so in esports – is the lack of diversity and inclusion, driven by two factors: an insular, hyper-masculine community and a layer of anonymity. Recently, some major brands like adidas, Nike, and Bumble have launched campaigns around traditional female athletes, but for esports fans their female counterparts are still missing. As brands look to enter this space, there is a unique opportunity to resonate with female gamers and esports fans, as well as drive an overall inclusion message to raise awareness and encourage participation in the sport.
Community: Similar to traditional sports, any brand looking at esports must find a game that shares its demographic reach. Additionally, brands should either look for teams offering long-term commitment or, alternatively, work directly with platforms like Twitch or ESL around their tournament schedule to achieve a mass presence.
If your brand is interested in finding out more about esports, or thinking about entering the space, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, as we have a team of experts excited to work hand-in-hand with your brand to authentically connect and activate in esports and gaming.