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Out of the box - designing brand activation for esports

Francesco Alivia
2 min read

From luxury watches and energy drinks, the esports ecosystem is a space where all kinds of brands can make a big impression with fans.

Not sure about advertising in esports? Think it’s just for a certain kind of brand? Well, think again.

Take Gucci. The luxury brand might not seem like a natural match for the younger esports demographic. But its limited edition esports watch and campaign – a tie-in with esports organisation Fnatic – was one of 2020’s most eye-catching campaigns. The Fnatic watch sold out in a hurry.

The truth is that brands from all sectors are aggressively entering the space, eager to connect with hard-to-reach digital natives. So, how can brands get their activation campaigns right in this dynamic space?


Think differently

Building an effective campaign is a much easier task if brands work closely with esports stakeholders, rather than just activating in the same way as any other campaign.

DHL didn’t just activate its tie-in with esports organiser ESL as a “normal” partner, for example: It joined in the game. It’s EffiBOT in-game courier won over the hearts of Dota 2 players and fans as part of an innovative and collaborative partnership that went way beyond standard brand activation. Fans have been known to chant the company’s name at events, where real-life versions of the robot and its minder SirActionSlacks also engage with fans.

Trust and transparency matter

The immersive nature of esports means that brands must seek to integrate with authenticity in the esports ecosystem to develop meaningful relationships.

In 2018, Mastercard became the first global sponsor of League of Legends esports, partnering with Riot Games as its global payment services partner to tap into its huge, loyal audience and millions of micropayments. By working in a transparent way with esports influencers and the LoL community, tailored messaging and non-intrusive in-game branding, the credit card company has earned the trust of LoL’s audience.

The sky is the limit

Toyota is a shining example of a brand that has entered the esports arena and learned quickly to develop its own presence. From curating exclusive behind-the-scenes content as an official launch partner for Blizzard’s North American Overwatch League to developing its own e-motorsports offering, Toyota’s journey showcases the potential for innovation and diverse avenues of engagement for brands that esports offers.

Getting it right

The key to a successful brand activation in esports – whether it’s with a team or a tournament – revolves around authenticity, credible storytelling, close integration with digital platforms and content, and clear KPIs and reporting.

With its proven expertise and track record of successful activations, brands can work with Infront to identify the right properties, work out what an esports sponsorship should achieve, develop an effective strategy, deliver a compelling story, and build that all-important trust with the community.