Forging brand synergies with passionate communities

 Passion is a defining part of life, as it is of business.

The best example of this is the rapidly growing esports community which today is a billion-dollar industry1. It is a visionary industry and its prime drive is passion.

Passionate communities have a distinctive lifestyle. They have adapted their daily routines to include their passion. For example, an esports fan will play a game or read forums on what’s happening in their community. This group truly invests energy to foster strong social circles, and they are highly engaged and willing to invest.

onefc esports digital graph 2

Source: Nielsen Sports
Note: Number of deals are total deals across endemic and non-endemic brands

As reported by Nielsen, there was an increase of 93% in commercial deals from 2014 to 2019. Clearly, brands have recognised the massive opportunities in this thriving industry.

However, marketing in this field has its challenges due to the modernity of the segment, and the fact that it is the first sport born on an online-to-offline model. For example, esports consumers are digitally native, and they know their way around traditional advertisements with advert blocking software.

It is a tight-knit community that is much more sensitive about authenticity, hence, making it hard for brands to infiltrate through traditional marketing. So, what should brands do?


1. Drop the traditional marketing mindset

If a company wants to be part of this surging market, it should not rely on typical marketing tactics that worked for traditional sports, but rather understand the desire for brand authenticity of the target audience and create long-term marketing strategies to comply with this criterion.

2. Take time to build meaningful brand integrations through storytelling

Let’s be honest – it’s easy to plaster your brand on the T-shirts of top players. All you need is an astronomical fund. However, given this community’s desire for authenticity that tactic tends to under-deliver. Telling a story, elevating the heroes in the industry, and emphasising on the values that brought them success, creates an impact no amount of money can buy.

Take, for example, the recent TUMI and ONE Esports collaboration.

TUMI, the premium luggage company, launched a video featuring Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, captain of Team Secret. The video focused on his esports journey and critical values he had to pick up as captain of the team.

Through the video, TUMI showed its understanding that players had to travel extensively and, by providing a reliable carrier for their precious equipment, TUMI was able to support the team that faced challenges in new environments. This helped identify the values, recognised the heroes, and created a story that generated more than 6.8 million views. 

3. Adapt strategies with the intention to grow and support the community

Who is the community?

To list a few, they are professional players, tournament organisers, streaming platforms, fans, publishers, and developers. These elements are equally important and work cohesively to grow the industry.

In traditional sports, brands tend to focus on players and elements where the eyes hit. However, when it comes to serving a passionate community such as esports, we’d say serve them all, and serve them equally. Participate in the invitationals, the majors, and the qualifiers, right down to community events such as masterclasses. Identify each segment’s needs and provide it with the support to achieve them.

The world of esports seems to present a steep learning curve for key decision-makers due to its extensive community built by a new generation. Nevertheless, every element is accessible and willing. Ultimately, brands that approach it with the right strategies and show true affection towards the community will be able to forge brand synergies with long-lasting returns.


This sponsored branded content by ONE Esports was first published in our April 2020 issue

ONE Esports celebrates the passion and excitement of all things esports and brings the latest news, reviews, features, how-to guides, and in-depth stories on the athletes, teams and fans. Our mission is to discover, create and unleash real-life esports superheroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams and inspiration. Click here to speak to a team member about authentic brand integrations.

Source: 1Newzoo: The global esports economy will top US$1 billion for the first time in 2019.