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Volume 26 No. 231
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Esports Teams Want To Expand Relationships With Brands

Esports have begun to draw support from bigger, non-endemic brands in recent years, which was the topic of discussion of a panel at the Lagardere Sports Esports Rising conference. Execs said their focus is on cultivating long-lasting relationships with those brands. Twitch Dir of Sponsorships Chad De Luca said, “We have a lot of people that want to give us money. … Brands have seen success and are re-upping and that’s a true testament to success.” T1 Entertainment & Sports CEO Joe Marsh added, “You can take dollars once, but if you don’t make them feel the love in that first year, they’re not coming back." Marsh said of T1's strategy with its Overwatch League team the Philadelphia Fusion, "We’re targeting local dollars. How do you entice a local market that hasn’t seen live an esports event and throw money at a property? Educating market is the biggest thing.” Riot Head of Esports Partnerships Matt Archambault said of the recent deal with Louis Vuitton around its League of Legends’ championship in Paris, “Seeing the trophy case in person blew my mind. .. (Louis Vuitton) drove the product and unique experience. We started with something they’d done in traditional sports and thought about how we can drive this in a way that will be positive. Now we’re putting some of their product in game in a unique spin.”

GOING OFF-SCREEN: De Luca noted Twitch is looking to tap into another area largely untouched by esports -- healthcare. "Pharma may not seem like it fits," he said, "but think about drugs that help treat life-threatening illnesses. Digitized health care … Seeing doctors online. Our audience is primarily on a computer." 100 Thieves Head of Partnerships Matty Lee discussed his organization's focus on creating a brand beyond games and players. "We put an intentional focus on building a lifestyle brand for the gaming generation," he said. "We do that through competitive esports, content creation and apparel. With apparel, the team has made some interesting moves, bringing on folks from those brands we aspire to. We’re not referencing the Yankees or Cowboys as much as Nike and Supreme in building this streetwear." Team SoloMid CRO Brad Sive said his organization is taking a different tact in terms of interacting with its fans at a new facility they are constructing in L.A. "We’re focusing on three things -- performance, innovation, content creation," he said. "We’ll have a wellness center, gym, an eating table, a fully functioning studio. For us, it’s not about building seats. ... It’s about pushing it out to millions of people."