Bud Light Triples Down On eSports

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 028: BUD LIGHT

Bud Light Triples Down On eSports - TNL Brand Tracker 028: Bud Light (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light Triples Down On eSports - TNL Brand Tracker 028: Bud Light (Photo: Bud Light)

TNL Take: Last year Bud Light made a big splash with their first investment within eSports.

While the program wasn't perfect and did receive some negative feedback most missed the bigger picture:

  • Alcohol brands have previously barely sponsored Gaming let alone eSports - that's a huge first
  • This was Year 1 for a major brand to enter a new space - plenty of valuable education will come from the first integration
  • A/B InBev spent $1.4B on the NFL alone for Bud Light to be the NFL's official beer sponsor through 2022 - any eSports leagues that may want a piece of this?

Now Bud Light has greatly extended it's program in 2017 and here's a breakdown of the various  elements to their new eSports investment.

 

/01 BUD LIGHT ALL STARS 2.0

Bud Light All-Stars 2017 (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light All-Stars 2017 (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light's first foray into eSports last year centered around their Bud Light All-Stars program which selected several athletes and influencers from across different gaming genres with 5 winners.

Bud Light's 2016 eSports Sposorship (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light's 2016 eSports Sposorship (Photo: Bud Light)

There was the expected criticism around the selection of nominees but everyone missed the financial forest for the twitter trees: Bud Light took their learnings and increased their investment in 2017.

Those complaining about why certain popular players weren't nominated didn't consider that they had to be 21+ and North American and not have have team owners ask for exorbitant money from a first time sponsor.

This year consisted of 16 nominees across Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, Call of Duty and Street Fighter V with the winners of each game streaming consecutively on Twitch for 8 hours along with giving away prizes and bits - a little more on that soon.

Bud Light All-Stars Winners Twitch Stream (Photo: Bud Light/Twitch)

Bud Light All-Stars Winners Twitch Stream (Photo: Bud Light/Twitch)

What's interesting in Bud Light's All-Star approach is that instead of sponsoring a complete team or league for a game they may not be able to work with directly - Street Fighter and it's publisher Capcom for example - their All-Stars ended up being some of the top Pro's in their scenes which allows Bud Light to still get attached to that games brand.

 

/02 BUD LIGHT ALL STARS MANSION

2017's Bud Light All-Stars Mansion (Photo: Bud Light)

2017's Bud Light All-Stars Mansion (Photo: Bud Light)

 

Bud Light also created a content series with the final episode culminating with the All-Stars being flown out and staying in a mansion in Vegas.

Bud Light All-Stars Filming at the Vegas Mansion (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light All-Stars Filming at the Vegas Mansion (Photo: Bud Light)

 

/03 BUD LIGHT EVENTS

Bud Light at DreamHack (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light at DreamHack (Photo: Bud Light)

In conjunction with the eSports voting component, Bud Light continued to invest in events by presenting at both DreamHack Austin and DreamHack Atlanta, which included an onsight Happy Hour each day.

 

/04 BUD LIGHT AND BARS

DreamHack Atlanta Shown in Local Bars (Photo: Twitter)

DreamHack Atlanta Shown in Local Bars (Photo: Twitter)

In addition to activating at DreamHack Atlanta,  Bud Light did something very simple that provides a starting point for collecting data and measuring advertising ROI: they partnered with a local bar and DreamHack attendees that showed their badge unlocked specials.

The possibilities to extend this further are endless.

 

/05 BUD LIGHT CANADA

Bud Light's eSports Extension to Canada (Photo: Bud Light)

Bud Light's eSports Extension to Canada (Photo: Bud Light)

Any sign of a successful advertising program — or willing to explore the opportunity further — are renewals. Bud Light not only has clearly increased their investment in the US but has also extended their eSports initiative to Canada as well.

While the Canadian portion isn’t as extensive as the US counterpart, the addition of an opportunity to spend a weekend with your favorite Bud Light All-Star at a Gaming house is pretty cool and they’ve included similar concepts to music and UFC in addition to eSports.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BUD LIGHT?

Beer advertising is a $1B+ market in the US alone with a majority spent around sports content.

The exclusive study that The Next Level conducted with Wunderman showed how much greater the eSports audience indexed within the Alcohol category vs. the March Madness audience for comparison:

The Next Level and Wunderman Research Study (Infographic: The Next Level)

The Next Level and Wunderman Research Study (Infographic: The Next Level)

Considering that Bud Light is currently reigning in the Alcohol category, I’d envision competitors moving in very quickly and for it to be the 2nd fastest growing brand category after Auto for eSports in 2017.

However I wouldn’t expect AB InBev to sit back idly and with just a fraction of their overall sports advertising budget, could continue to own eSports market share.

Which League or Game could get Bud Light get into next?

 

Major League Baseball = No eSports

Rocket League = Too Young

League of Legends = Too global whereas Bud Light is primarily North American

NBA2K League = Potentially but I would bet on Mountain Dew first 

Overwatch League = Maybe but also skews a bit younger and would they dive in at the current prices in Year 1?

 

So what’s left?

Just the NFL and Madden.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 027: MOUNTAIN DEW

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew (Photo: Pepsi)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew (Photo: Pepsi)

Brand Feature Writer: James Kozachuk

TNL Take: Mountain Dew is synonymous with gaming. So much so that it can often be found being sold beside various video games at department stores and right next to the Doritos bags.

Mt. Dew Branded Xbox (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mt. Dew Branded Xbox (Photo: Wikipedia)

But then why was Mountain Dew not all-in on eSports?

Well, it might have something to do with how they were a sponsor of the failed Championship Gaming Series (CGS).

But that's starting to change and Mountain Dew is back in a big way.

Taking over sponsorship of a long-standing tournament, three well-known teams, and a few extra activations here and there. We'll tackle each of these initatives one by one.

Mountain Dew League (Photo: ESEA)

Mountain Dew League (Photo: ESEA)

MOUNTAIN DEW LEAGUE (MDL)

ESEA has been a staple in the CounterStrike community for quite literally decades. The organization provides competitions at multiple levels of play, where placement in each of their leagues allows a team to graduate (or relegate) between their tournaments. The ESEA Proleague is comprised of the best of the best teams, but right below this league is their Premier League, a place for up-and-coming rising star types.

And that's what Mountain Dew just put their name on. The Mountain Dew League (or MDL) is essentially a rebranding of the ESEA Premier League. $125,000 in prizing on the line, multiple seasons, winners seeding directly into the ESL Proleague. There's true storylines being built here: Steve Aoke's eSports team RogueGG won the first season, and Roger Saffold's eSports team Rise Nation is the top seed in the third season.

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)

3 TEAM SPONSORSHIP: TEAM DIGNITAS, SPLYCE AND SK GAMING

In June, Mountain Dew announced their sponsorship of three major teams within eSports: the Team Dignitas (Philadelphia 76'ers) , Splyce (Boston Bruins via Delaware North), and SK Gaming. 

SK Gaming is among the longest-standing eSports teams in history. There's no wonder why Mountain Dew wanted to align with the brand.

Both Team Dignitas and Splyce are also aligned with pro sports teams and venues , which is a healthy add to additional partnerships.

[Edit: I'd bet that Mountain Dew will be the official Beverage Sponsor of the upcoming NBA 2K ELEAGUE]

Firstborn agency's Answer The Call digital spot for DEW x NBA

Neither of these teams have Mountain Dew affiliated athletes, unlike Team Liquid/the Wizards/Bradley Beal, Misfits/Miami Heat/Justise Windslow, or Flyquest/Bucks/Giannis Antetokounmpo.

With the amount of resources Mountain Dew has put into their previous NBA player marketing campaigns, I'd love to see something at that scale with their new eSports teams.

Esports and UFC Influencers partner with Mountain Dew and OriginPC for RIG UP! (Photo: Twitter)

Esports and UFC Influencers partner with Mountain Dew and OriginPC for RIG UP! (Photo: Twitter)

OriginPC RIG UP!

In the age when all major agencies are pushing their clients towards branded content like professionally produced Snapchat/Instagram stories, we need to be able to sell that idea within eSports.

How about a "Twitch Show?" Sure. Throw a bunch of influencers in a room for a few weeks, crosspromote your brand with another, and you've got it.

Fans of Dyrus, ZombiUnicorn, OpTicDi3seL, Christian Spicer (Comedian), and Demetrious Johnson (UFC) vote on computer parts to be installed into a computer rig to be given away at the end of the eight-week stream. 

It's apparently the formula for over a million views and ten-thousand followers on TwitchTV alone within two months.

Pepsi's Long Relationship With India Continues (Photo: Pepsico India)

Pepsi's Long Relationship With India Continues (Photo: Pepsico India)

EVERYTHING ELSE

To round out Mountain Dew's activities in eSports within the last year we have a competition for Singapore, Malaysia, and India called the "Mountain Dew Arena." 

They've also partnered up with another brand who is quickly becoming an endemic brand in the space, Arby's, with an exclusive beverage on tap, "Mountain Dew Game Fuel Citrus Cherry." 

 

Mountain Dew has really picked up the pace within the last year. Their work in North America/Europe is authentic and can have strong stories built around it. With a successful push, Pepsi's multiple brands are leading eSports investment and might open the floodgates for even more brands to enter the space.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 026: Dr. Pepper

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 026: DR. PEPPER

Dr. Pepper All Star Tournament (Photo: Dr. Pepper Germany)

Dr. Pepper All Star Tournament (Photo: Dr. Pepper Germany)

Brand Feature Writer: James Kozachuk

The first part of a series looking at recent investment by Beverage Brands within eSports.

 

TNL Take: Dr. Pepper's involvement in eSports is reminiscent of another brand we have highlighted in the TNL Brand Tracker - Bic - when we looked at Gillette.

Both brands dominated eSports advertising in the old days of MLG. With flashy booths, gamers on Dr. Pepper cans, personally sponsored a number of players (Kiwikaki, Pistola, Tsquared, Roy), and even hosted their own co-branded web-series, the "Dr. Pepper Ultimate Gaming House." 

Dr. Pepper was clearly ahead of other brands.

Dr. Pepper POPUP Display at MLG Anaheim 2012 (Photo: Impulse Gamer)

Dr. Pepper POPUP Display at MLG Anaheim 2012 (Photo: Impulse Gamer)

Since then, however, we haven't seen Dr. Pepper do much within the scene.

Tsquared Dr. Pepper on 175 Million Bottles in 2008-2009 (Photo: New York Times)

Tsquared Dr. Pepper on 175 Million Bottles in 2008-2009 (Photo: New York Times)

Except Dr. Pepper has been relentlessly advertising within the German eSports scene.

Since 2012, the brand has run their "Dr. Pepper All Star Tournament" series, and have just recently announced their sponsorship of one of the leading German professional teams "Mouseports."

Dr. Pepper signs agreement with Mousesports in May 2017 (Photo: Mousesports)

Dr. Pepper signs agreement with Mousesports in May 2017 (Photo: Mousesports)

The interesting aspect is that both of these activations have been in partnership with Dr. Pepper Germany. A quick trip to the Dr. Pepper Germany website highlights just how important gaming and eSports is to their marketing efforts:

All, Stuff, Deal Finder, and Gaming (Photo: Dr. Pepper Germany)

All, Stuff, Deal Finder, and Gaming (Photo: Dr. Pepper Germany)

So why is specifically the German distributor of Dr. Pepper so invested in eSports? There's a few potential reasons:

/01 German eSports is incredibly organic and has built itself up slowly, but strongly, into a global powerhouse. Dr. Pepper was pushed very strongly within the United States in the earlier years of eSports and Dr. Pepper has been authentically reaching the German eSports audience during this growth process. With the Mousesports sponsorship they're ready to expand their reach at a more international level.

/02 I've been skirting around Dr. Pepper Germany's "distributor" throughout this article because in the United States Dr. Pepper is distributed through the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group.

Within Germany however, Dr. Pepper is solely distributed through The Coca-Cola Company. We haven't seen the former activate in eSports for years, but Coca-Cola has been dominating the eSports advertising scene lately.

Coca-Cola Battlefy Partnership in 2016 (Photo: Battlefy)

Coca-Cola Battlefy Partnership in 2016 (Photo: Battlefy)

With the sponsorship of Mousesports, there's a potential for their success internationally.

 

Perhaps this will finally bring Dr. Pepper USA back into eSports? Will be very interesting to see their ROI.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 025: Vodafone and Mousesports

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 025: VODAFONE AND MOUSESPORTS

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 025: Vodafone and Mousesports (Photo: Mousesports)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 025: Vodafone and Mousesports (Photo: Mousesports)

TNL Take: No you're not seeing double.

Yes, Vodafone announced their renewal of their partnership with G2 eSports.

Vodafone looks to double down on their European investment by also sponsoring team Mousesports

Vodafone will be involved with all of Mousesports teams, which includes Counter-Strike, Street Fighter V, Dota 2 teams and Vainglory, the usual branded content and exclusively on Vodafone's "Featured" magazine.

 

Yes this deal focuses on Vodafone's high speed broadband access but the lines between a mobile, internet, and content are quickly being blurred.