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Volume 26 No. 178
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Bose Becomes Latest Non-Endemic Sponsor For Krafts' OWL Franchise

Kraft Sports + Entertainment has signed a sponsorship agreement with Bose for the Boston Uprising, the Overwatch League esports team the Patriots and Revolution ownership group operates. The deal, representing another significant buy into esports by a non-endemic sponsor, was outlined this morning at the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium by Kraft Sports + Entertainment CMO Jennifer Ferron. “They’re a great company. They’ve done a lot with the Kraft Group for a number of years now,” Ferron said of Bose. “They want to be in this space making headwear and headsets that gamers can use, so this gives us an opportunity to help them develop that.” Financial terms were not disclosed, but the agreement adds to another non-endemic deal Kraft Sports + Entertainment has with Gillette for the Uprising. Ferron said one of her calls after landing the OWL franchise was to Gillette Global Head of Sports, Esports & Entertainment Marketing Greg Via. That was due to the long ties between the Kraft group and Gillette, as well as the brand’s existing entries into esports. “When we talked to Greg, it was as much an opportunity for us to learn from the Gillette brand and this blue-chip company about esports as it was for them to continue their partnership with us,” Ferron said. “We have a relationship that is tried and true and stood the test of time. And for us to be in this [esports] space together, it was really opportunistic.”

ACCELERATING FAN DEVELOPMENT WORK: Ferron said the Kraft group’s work with the Uprising in many ways is seeking to greatly accelerate the fan development work that occurred in traditional stick-and-ball sports over many decades. “We’re almost at hyperspeed moving forward into something that has taken other leagues years and years to cultivate,” she said. Aiding that process is a marked willingness by esports fans to accept significant shifts in core matters such as scheduling and competitive structures. “In esports, the audience and community has been very accepting of change,” Ferron said. “They’re accustomed to having games that are being modified as you’re going along. In traditional sports, you might never accept a rule change in the middle of the season. ... The literal game of Overwatch, League of Legends, changes from season to season and often times in the midst of a calendar year.”

MANY AFFINITY DRIVERS AROUND ESPORTS: Meanwhile, Octagon Senior VP Jeff Meeson outlined the affinity drivers around esports, with factors such as the tight fan communities and opportunity to socialize around key games and the ability for fans to play the games themselves and level up in them serving as key sources of fandom. Meeson’s study found that esports currently has a global audience of 380 million fans, with more than two-thirds of that group in the highly-coveted 18-34 demo. “Why are people going bonkers over this? ... There are lot of important qualitative drivers as to why fans care,” Meeson said.