The E-Sports Opportunity for Brands

By 22/03/2019Activations, Digital
Online gaming – Twitch and YouTube in particular – are changing the stereotype of gaming as a loner activity to one that has grown real communities, friendships and even romances.

According to Nielsen research, Forty-eight percent of YouTubers game watchers say they spend more time watching gaming videos on YouTube than playing games.

Generation Z (people born mid-1990s to mid-2000s) are particularly interested in consuming gaming videos via their tablets or smartphones. Mindcraft and Fortnite are growing in popularity by the day and it’s the YouTube content creators who are benefiting financially from this trend.

A recent Reach3 Insights study uncovered findings on the impact of games among Generation Z through players’ attitudes toward “Fortnite”. One of the biggest takeaways from the research is that “Fortnite” helps to strengthen friendships, not weaken them. 71% of the players reported that all or most of their real-life friends also play the popular game. Around 60% also said that they are better friends in real life because of lessons learned in the game.

Looking to create engagement with the huge, untapped gaming community? Here are 5 ways to do it

Conventions and Events

Gaming events are big. For instance this year EGW will be hosted in the RDS, Simmonscourt over 4 days for up to 20,000 people from 4th – 7th July.  The equivalent in the UK being EGX on October 17th-20th at the Excel with over 100,000 expected to go.

Go beyond a media buy, show up and reward gamers with a feel good initiative. A very simple but effective campaign was Nestlé in the US.

When Nestlé sought to leverage the PAX East convention, they parked a food truck outside the Boston venue and gave away more than 3,000 Hot Pockets to attendees waiting in line during the three-day event. The effort built buzz for the brand — Hot Pockets gained nearly 2,000 Twitter followers and nearly 1,300 YouTube subscribers as fans shared videos and pictures of their warm sandwiches during the cold March weekend.

Influencer Marketing

Gaming influencers are like no other. They tend to rank within the highest viewed content on YouTube and Generation Z often see them as peers rather than celebrities. Universal Pictures saw firsthand how powerful the gaming audience on YouTube is. The company worked with PewDiePie, one of the leading YouTube gaming creators, to promote the horror film, As Above, So Below.

Universal Pictures gamified PewDiePie’s experience on the movie set, letting him work his way through the catacombs from the movie, unlocking challenges along the way. The filmmakers tapped into the interests of the gaming community, and gave it a unique way to engage in the film. As a result, the content reached more than 12M views, 900K likes and 70K comments across the campaign videos.

Choose Your Partner Wisely

With so many different games and genres out there, it is important to be choosy about which game you want your brand associated with.

“Understanding the gaming environment and knowing if your brand is willing to be associated with an M-rated game, those conversations are very key,” said Andy Swanson, VP of e-sports and events at the gaming platform Twitch.

Break the Rules

Gaming couldn’t be further from conventional marketing. It’s time to be different. Some of the best opportunities could lie in-game, with your brand making a lasting impression on the consumer in a subtle but effective way. Whether that be creating a costume for a character in Fortnite (just like NFL below), ensuring that your car brand is the most sought after car in the latest car game or rewarding players with free in-game bonuses if they are part of your reward scheme. The possibilities are different but also endless.

Play with the Gaming Talent within Your Organisation

Roughly 1 in 10 people in the world today are gamers. They come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak, and they’re all unique in terms of characteristics and lifestyles. There will be plenty within your organisation that could offer the perfect gateway to your brand values connecting with the values of the gaming world.

The US have three professional E-Sports teams who represent the US in online tournaments. HTC are the title sponsor to these teams.  HTC’s E-sports project manager Walter Wang is a longtime gamer who helped introduce the company to the gaming space, along with a small group of fellow gamers who run the brand’s E-Sports initiatives with support from a global team.

“It did take a little bit of coaxing to tell upper management that E-sports was becoming really big,” said Mr. Wang. “Happily, I convinced them. … The demographic is also perfect for HTC because they’re all tech-savvy millennials.”

Coca-Cola also hired a global head of gaming, Matt Wolf,  who is responsible for the Company’s gaming strategy, partnerships and initiatives across all brands.

Need help creating brand experiences that will resonate with Gen Z and beyond? Contact us here.