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Volume 25 No. 214
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Coca-Cola Signs Landmark Deal With Activision Blizzard, OWL

In the multiyear pact, Coca-Cola gets exclusivity with the Overwatch World Cup
Photo: ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Coca-Cola has signed an expansive deal with Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues to become the official non-alcoholic beverage of Overwatch League and all other Overwatch properties. It is the first OWL sponsorship deal that takes full advantage of the game developer's total control over the game's intellectual property. In the multiyear pact, Coca-Cola gets exclusivity with all 20 OWL teams, the Overwatch Contenders league, the open division, the Overwatch World Cup, the annual BlizzCon and collegiate events. “When we showed them the data points about how the people who play Overwatch, are also the fans of the esports, what we’re doing at the league level, their perspective became, ‘If we really want to do this the right way, then let’s be a partner of the entire ecosystem,’” said Activision Blizzard Esports CRO Brandon Snow. He declined to disclose terms, but a source said it covers three years. Coca-Cola products will be served at OWL events when Activision Blizzard controls the venue, and league officials will attempt to facilitate a pouring deal between Coca-Cola and any other venue that may host games if possible. The league is experimenting with running some games at teams’ local venues this year, and teams have said they’re planning to run full home schedules in '20. Details of how Coca-Cola will promote its rights will be disclosed in the coming weeks, Snow said. Coca-Cola Classic will be the primary brand focus point, but the deal allows for other products to be featured. Coca-Cola Senior VP/Strategic Marketing Geoff Cottrill oversaw negotiations, while Snow led talks for Activision Blizzard. Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, has served as a director for Coca-Cola since '12.

WATERSHED MOMENT FOR OWL: Naming a beverage sponsor is a watershed moment for OWL, Snow said, lending legitimacy and marketing reach that every traditional sport property depends on. "They have marketing assets beyond what other people have. They have their cans, their bottles, and the way they can bring those sports to life on cans and bottles are marketing dollars that people like us and stick and ball sports just really can’t put a value against,” Snow said. "It’s wonderful media." Coca-Cola has been in esports and gaming before, working with Riot Games’ League of Legends in '16 and integrating with EA Sports’ FIFA title in '17 and '18. PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew is perhaps the most prominent player in the category, having sponsored ESL’s Mountain Dew League, a developmental league in "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," and signing its own deal with Activision Blizzard in December for the “Call of Duty” World League. OWL’s second season starts Thursday.