Envisioning Success with eSports Advertising

April 26, 2016

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories:Advertising, Analysis, Marketing, outlook

According to Newzoo’s Global Esports Market Report,” brands will spend $325M on direct eSports advertising and sponsoring this year, 49% more than in 2015.” This figure accounts for over 70% of projected worldwide revenue in 2016, see figure below.

Newzoo_Esports_Report_2016_Revenue_Growth_V4

With mainstream media outlets increasing coverage, and a growing number of brand names like Pepsi and Coca Cola tapping into the global scene, the topic of effective advertising in eSports is coming into focus. While the prospect of connecting to valuable demographics is prominent, it is critical to define the characteristics of winning campaigns targeted at eSports audiences. Given its relative novelty as marketing medium and unique mix of elements, the competitive video game domain must be navigated accordingly. The Essilor Eyezen Challenge, part ad campaign, part branded content, part game experience, is a solid use case in connecting with eSports audiences.

Seeing straight with Eyezen

Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, unveiled the Eyezen Challenge in association with Fnatic, a leading competitive eSports organization, to launch its new Eyezen™ lenses. The campaign provides an immersive digital experience in the form of an online game enabled by eye-tracking technology. More importantly, it demonstrates key elements of impactful eSports marketing communications.

The value of rights

Essilor’s advertising agency, Herezie, fashioned the challenge as means of engaging eSports audiences around the importance of preserving vision health with Eyezen™ lenses. In order to deliver the intended brand/product message, the agency integrated several marketing mix themes into the DNA of the campaign. In addition to crafting a well-designed and immersive experience, the Eyezen Challenge featured deep integration with the Fnatic property, including endorsement by its League of Legends (LoL) eSports star, Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson.

Rekkles is currently rated as one of the top 20 most popular LoL stars in the world with 250k+ followers on Twitter, 350k+ likes on Facebook, 300k+ followers on Twitch. The individual influence and star power of a top pro player provides a recognizable face for the campaign, but also context. The tagline, “See if you can beat Rekkles,” aligns with the psychology of competitive video games audiences.

The degree of rights accessibility, also included:

  • Fnatic trademarks and brand images
  • Endorsement by Rekkles
  • Licensed team video content
  • Appearance by Fnatic coach, Luis Sevilla

All of the above are incredible selling points for pursuing partnerships with competitive eSports organizations. Where traditional sports draw a sharp line between player and team, on the rights side, activations in eSports offer more flexibility; a reality from which brands benefit mightily. Through a single partnership vehicle, Essilor’s campaign receives a form of borrowed brand equity, worth its weight in gold, for non-endemic brands.

Key Takeaways

Creative content takes on many forms in the world of eSports. With social media and livestreaming platforms wired directly into the eSports experience, interactive media rules. While a game experience, targeted at gaming friendly audiences, might seem obvious, creative fusion of Fnatic brand elements transforms the campaign into interactive content. And armed with teams in every single major eSports title, Fnatic provides reach for that content, which extends past immediate fan bases and into wider competitive gaming demographics.

Essilor’s campaign also integrates points that resonate with core composition of eSports audiences:

  • Audiences are engaged as participants in the game experience, as opposed to inactive eyeballs, e.g. pop-up ads
  • The challenge presents a clear purpose, i.e. compete & win
  • Branding and messaging is intelligently weaved into the overall fabric without interrupting the game experience, e.g. compact trailer at the onset of play

Measuring impact

As with any/all marketing campaigns, material outcome is measured in ROI. Whether Essilor realizes an increase in sales, leads, or otherwise will go a ways towards determining success levels. However, it’s worth noting that the campaign was recognized as, “…a great opportunity to create awareness among gamers, whether they wear glasses or not,” according to Alain Riveline, Global Marketing VP at Essilor. Either way, a quick gander at the associated engagement levels on social media, speaks to a strong impact. This includes over 200+ likes and 30+ retweets for a single Tweet on top 5 scores. Plus, multiple direct replies related to the challenge (see figure 2).

Figure 2 - Courtesy of Twitter
Figure 2 – Courtesy of Twitter

Moving forward

The approach, strategy and execution behind the Eyezen Challenge create a strong success story and use case for eSports advertising. From teaming with an eSports savvy ad firm, Herezie, to partnering with a leading competitive organization, Fnatic, the route taken is one worth serious observation. Other non-endemic brands considering similar forays will do well to note how crucial elements of the eSports opportunity were weaved into the campaign’s DNA. All towards creating an immersive marketing vehicle that connects with hard-to-reach audiences.

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