Esports campaigns continue to grow in size and variety as more brands enter the space. The challenge we all face is how to support and nurture new brands into the space when brand characteristics and objectives differ.
In the past year we’ve seen more involvement from Automotive brands like Toyota and Honda. They have opted to go wider than just logo placement with an emphasis on relevant content. This is great and it makes sense for globally recognised brands. Any esports fan can interact with the branded content and have their brand perception influenced.
But what about esports campaigns for smaller brands or those offices with budgets for a specific country? The UK is a great example of this and one we’ve had experience with. Some brands have separate budgets for the UK and Northern Ireland that sits outside of the decision making for the rest of Europe. This presents both opportunities and challenges.
The budgets can often be smaller than a European-wide budget and the focus is narrower.
Availability of assets
One of the challenges for offices who are operating against a country specific budget, and target audience, is the availability of assets.
A lot of the top esports teams cross borders with their players and squads. This means they don’t often have a “home base” in the traditional sense. There might be an office or HQ in a country but that doesn’t mean the esports community associate the team with that country. Conversely – a team might be connected and associated with a country but have no players from that country. This misalignment can make it hard for brands to find relevant teams to work with.
The same principle can be applied to other assets in the esports ecosystem such as tournaments. Global tournaments may not have the local focus required by the local office of a brand. This means some investigative work is needed to understand the local landscape.
Types of activation and visibility
Having identified suitable locally relevant assets there comes another challenge. The visibility of local assets can be substantially reduced if they coincide with international tournaments or events. Local viewers may prefer to watch the best of the best on the international stage rather than local teams and tournaments.
Visibility can also be impacted due to a lack of awareness within the local country esports community. How well recognised is a local event or tournament? In the UK the Insomnia events have built a good reputation because they’ve been consistent over the past 15+ years. Are there other smaller events? Yes, but they haven’t yet reached the scale or level of recognition.
Focusing on benefits
A local focus does present opportunities for brands. While budgets may be smaller there is the ability to be hyper-focused. This means concentrating on what’s relevant to local players and viewers. Esports isn’t about simple logo placements anymore and brands are shifting their thinking to engagement and narrative. This combination of changed thinking by brands and a hyper-focus can lead to some interesting concepts for campaigns.
- Instead of increasing the prize fund for a tournament or league why not use budget to provide a stipend for competing players. This starts to provide a greater level of local stability to existing players and gives aspiring players something to aim for.
- Find ways to engage local viewership and present benefits they won’t get watching international events. This could range from things like behind-the-scenes content to the ability to see and test new products first.
- Help build a pathway with local teams and Universities. A lot of countries now have structured University vs. University esports leagues and tournaments. Budget could be used to provide scholarships or a route into a professional esports team.