#MarketingEventsAwards spills: Singtel's relentless expansion into esports

Singtel has been doubling down hard on esports ever since it entered the scene in 2018 with the PVP eSports Championship. Two years later, it launched the virtual festival SuperGamerFest (SGF) to delight the growing pool of gamers and esports enthusiasts across Southeast Asia.

Its efforts to recognise the hard work and achievements of Asia's gaming creators and esports professionals led the company to become a finalist for Best Consumer Event - esports at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Marketing Events Awards 2020. Singtel's Cindy Tan, head of business and marketing shares how esports withstood the pandemic's headwinds and its upcoming efforts in the gaming scene moving forward.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Marketing Events Awards 2020. To find out more about the awards, click here

What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Tan: The esports and gaming industry around Southeast Asia is changing rapidly and gamers are definitely seeing both endemic and non-endemic brands to keep pace with this and keep adding value to their overall gaming experiences.

With PVP Esports, we’ve done the big professional leagues but also engaged the community deeply through our amateur tournaments, unique digital content and events such as the inaugural SuperGamerFest we introduced this year. Over the last two years we’ve indisputably grown to be one of the key players in the esports scene that has had a truly regional presence with our various initiatives so far, and we intend to continue building that rapport with our fans from across the region.

As we continue to reach out to even more regional audiences, we believe our fans will expect us to keep doing what we’re doing well with our continued regional engagement through our community tournaments and initiatives, whilst staying true to our brand promise of being here gaming lives by levelling up on our digital content offerings to keep our fans at the edge of their seats.  

How have your marketing plans shifted this year?

Tan: Gaming has proven to be one of the rare pandemic-proof industries. At the height of the pandemic, it was also widely reported across the globe that many consumers turned to video games as a way of home entertainment or to pass time during these unprecedented times.  

While we were unable to hold our physical esports events as we planned, we leveraged this opportunity to offer more digital-first peripheral offerings to our core tournaments, such as mini tournaments for those stuck at home to sign up and play on a smaller scale and developing a host of digital entertainment content that widened our offerings beyond just esports gameplay.

Luckily, esports is also inherently digital-first, and while we had to pivot to a fully online event, we didn’t have to rewrite our marketing playbook per se. Without the need for venue rentals or the production of a physical event, going fully virtual allowed us to reallocate resources to areas that directly impact the viewer experience, such as enriching our programming and engaging more talents.

That said, virtual events do naturally miss out on the buzz and atmosphere that comes with a physical event where audiences gather in person. This challenged us to be more creative in our execution to ensure that we deliver an equally engaging experience for our fans – which we did with virtual festival, SuperGamerFest 2020 – Southeast Asia’s first virtual gaming festival and awards show.  

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Tan: As consumers habituate towards more digital-led lives, video games will no doubt continue to play an integral part of their lifestyles. Gaming is clearly an increasingly popular genre of entertainment for young audiences. From watching esports to tuning in to their favourite streamers or gaming content on demand, the possibilities are endless in the space – and we will continue to work closely with our associates in the region and keep our finger on the pulse on the latest to provide our regional fans with a compelling digital entertainment offering, even as we continue to build up the community.

On that note, we will be looking to collaborate more with esports and gaming content writers and producers to expand our content offerings on our online portal pvpesports.gg, which will feature more original articles and videos to delight our fans.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Tan: Great marketing always remains the same at its core – it needs to be relevant, differentiated and rewarding. We choose to measure this through engagement. It’s about targeting the right consumers, aligning your interest with theirs, and making sure that they can’t take their eyes away. That’s what we’re doing with PVP Esports: our goal is to bring this ever-growing community of gamer content and experiences that don’t look or feel like marketing, but are simply what they’re looking for. A reflection of their passions that also happens to be our business. We’ve seen great success with what we’ve been doing to date with our tournaments and content offerings, and look forward to engaging our community more as we grow.

How are you planning for 2021?

Tan: The year 2020 showed us the importance of being agile and adaptable, ready to take on curveballs as they come. We’re optimistic about 2021 and excited about the opportunities ahead – especially when it comes to what we’re doing with esports and gaming.

We have a fully digital agenda when it comes to gaming, which makes sense given the subject matter, widely distributed fan base and uncertainty about how the pandemic situation will evolve. This comes with some upsides as well – as we move into more virtual events and tournaments as a pathway through which we engage with our audiences, we are also exploring how these can become regular content offerings on our platforms, or even an always-on channel in the future. As technology improves and 5G becomes more widely available in the more distant future, we’re also keen to explore creative possibilities such as integrating AR or VR to interact with audiences!