With COVID-19 shutting down nearly every major sports league around the world, brands are scrambling. Hundreds of companies were counting on March Madness, the NBA Playoffs and the Olympics to put their brand in front of millions of viewers.
These events are tried and true. The demographics have been researched time and again, the practices are well understood, and each year, events deliver exposure to brands like clockwork. Except when there is a global pandemic.
Suddenly these brands are scrambling, working to figure out how to adjust to the new world we find ourselves in. One area of adjustment appears to be esports. With sports leagues adopting athlete-driven esports events and broadcasts moving to premier sports channels, brands are embracing this new opportunity. But there are some key differences when moving from sports to esports.
“You can’t just serve an ad that’s just your generic spot and think that gamers will find it cool,” said Fred Schonenberg, the CEO of VentureFuel, a company that helps large corporations solve challenges by partnering with startups. “Gamers, in particular, are good at spotting BS. They might actually make fun of the brand that comes in without proper research. A good example of a brand coming to esports was Pepsi. They came in with GameFuel a drink designed for gamers showing they are thinking about that community and designing a product to serve the community.”
As massive brands enter esports, Venture Fuel helps direct them to potential partners in the space. As a company that specializes in chaos, Schonenberg has been busy lately.
“Esports are crucial during this crisis,” Schonenberg said. “When you are playing esports, you are escaping, you are competing, you are hanging with your friends. There’s an opportunity for advertisers to be in esports in a cool way, even right now. In gaming, you can still be pushing the envelope a little bit and be right for the gaming audience and that won’t come across as insensitive when compared to somebody who is watching the news or TV and keeps seeing the same ad.”
Right now, more than ever, we need to escape from our daily life. While people are stuck at home, they are looking for any excuse to get away from thinking of COVID-19. Twitch and YouTube have seen records broken in the last month as viewership has skyrocketed. For brands, they have an opportunity here but still need to be careful how they approach it.
Listen to the full Esportz Network Podcast with Schonenburg down below where we cover good advertising during the pandemic, the gaming opportunity and how brands can utilize streaming services.
Article and Podcast by Mitch Reames