TNL eSports Brand Tracker 022: Pepsi Adrenaline Rush and Virtus.Pro

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 022: PEPSI ADRENALINE RUSH AND VIRTUS PRO

Roman Dvoryankin (GM, Virtus.pro) and Anatoly Gordeev (Pepsi, Director of Marketing: Energy Drinks) (Photo: Virtus.pro)

Roman Dvoryankin (GM, Virtus.pro) and Anatoly Gordeev (Pepsi, Director of Marketing: Energy Drinks) (Photo: Virtus.pro)

TNL Take: Normally energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster) have been excluded as they've been in the "Endemic" category since starting TNL Brand Tracker. However this deal is unique for a few reasons.

First the deal itself: Pepsi's Adrenaline Rush brand signed a partnership with ESforce Holding, which owns Russian eSports team Virtus.pro.  The 1-year deal includes the usual jersey logo across their teams and athletes in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Dota 2.

Adrenaline Rush Gamer Branded Drink (Photo: Adrenaline Rush)

Adrenaline Rush Gamer Branded Drink (Photo: Adrenaline Rush)

Virtus.pro will also provide content marketing for both the team's and Adrenaline Rush's social channels as well as participate in brand marketing events. 

Here's why this particular deal is interesting:

  • Adrenaline Rush has been moving heavily into eSports recently: In 2016, the brand organized the nationwide Adrenaline Open Cyber Cup as well as the Adrenaline Cyber League for Pro's. 
Adrenaline Cyber League (Photo: Adrenaline Rush)

Adrenaline Cyber League (Photo: Adrenaline Rush)

  • It also has Brand targeted specifically to Gamers and eSports fans called Adrenaline Game Fuel
  • Pepsi's continues its support of eSports across a wide variety of products and sponsorships of teams, leagues, and events - more on this Soon™
  • The biggest one: Recently Red Bull announced their own League of Legends Challenger team.  Red Bull also sponsors different eSports teams as well as individual Athletes. What happens if hypothetically League of Legends announces that Monster Energy is the official league drink? What happens to the Red Bull team? What happens to Red Bull's eSports team deals? What happens to this deal with Virtus.pro?

 

As eSports league's become more formalized and start to slowly resemble traditional sports infrastructure, brand deals and revenue sharing will soon start becoming a bigger part of the conversation.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 021: Fnatic and Casper

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 021: FNATIC AND CASPER

Casper Mattress (Photo: Amazon)

Casper Mattress (Photo: Amazon)

TNL Take: Casper Mattresses.

Why would the company that has been blasting advertisements on my favorite podcasts and full take over of NYC subway trains enter eSports with a partnership with one of the world's most popular teams, Fnatic?

Let's dive right in.

Casper is a direct-to-consumer mattress company. To avoid the high retail placement costs of traditional mattress sales, they ship directly to the purchaser's doorstep. Arriving home to a giant mattress in front of your home might be unsettling - and costly -, so their special sauce is to compress their shipped mattresses to the size of a mini-fridge and have it reinflate upon opening. 

[Ed: I probably see at least 1 Casper box per day walking through Manhattan and Brooklyn]

Maybe a little bit larger than a mini-fridge (Photo: Casper)

Maybe a little bit larger than a mini-fridge (Photo: Casper)

Why eSports?

eSports viewers are literally the target demographic for companies like Casper. They're a unique, internet-focused, and disruptive brand with a product that targets new home-owners/adults moving out for their first job or university - which points back to The Next Level and Wunderman Brand study that corroborates the young family demographic within eSports.

Casper Mattress in Fnatic's Office (Photo: The Drum)

Casper Mattress in Fnatic's Office (Photo: The Drum)

The Fnatic BUNKR (Source: Fnatic)

The Fnatic BUNKR (Source: Fnatic)

Guess who also uses pop-up physical stores as a method of marketing? Casper.

Casper's Los Angeles Pop Up Store (Photo: Racked LA)

Casper's Los Angeles Pop Up Store (Photo: Racked LA)

But isn't getting around the expensive cost of retail part of Casper's core business model? It's all about the customer experience.

Come to a Casper pop-up store - to watch an eSports event? Or to meet professional players?
Come to a Fnatic pop-up store - for your nap appointment? Or to jump on a mattress?

"Nap Pod" in Fnatic's London Office (Photo: Esports News UK)

"Nap Pod" in Fnatic's London Office (Photo: Esports News UK)

Casper is also providing content marketing to support their partnership, like education on the importance of sleep in the lives of an eSports athlete.

Casper's Sleep Tips for Gamers Campaign (Photo: The Drum)

Casper's Sleep Tips for Gamers Campaign (Photo: The Drum)

 

While this may not immediately seem like a perfect partnership, the deeper you dive into it the more it makes perfect sense.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 020: Gillette

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 020: GILLETTE

Gillette Invests In eSports (Photo: Gillette)

Gillette Invests In eSports (Photo: Gillette)

Is it spelled Razer or Razor?

With how involved the former company is, it's often hard to remember. But now, the razor companies have come to change that.

Gillette at ESL Katowice (Photo: Kotaku)

Gillette at ESL Katowice (Photo: Kotaku)

Razor brands have been sponsoring eSports events for years. In 2012 Major League Gaming (MLG) promoted Bic Flex 4 Razors at their events, in 2013 Dollar Shave Club started supporting streamers and recently sponsored Turner's ELEAGUE - but the largest razor brand was noticeably missing.

MLG Starcraft II Prizefights, sponsored by Bic (Photo: Team Liquid)

MLG Starcraft II Prizefights, sponsored by Bic (Photo: Team Liquid)

The Gillette Championship (Source: Gfinity)

The Gillette Championship (Source: Gfinity)

The eSports battle between Unilever's Dollar Shave Club and Gillette is starting to ramp up.

Gillette has been taking their eSports campaign in three directions:

/1 PLAYERS AND TEAMS

In January 2017, Gillette signed on professional League of Legends player xPeke as their first eSports ambassador. For comparison, Gillette's other ambassadors include Joe Hart (English Footballer), Neymar Jr (Brazillian Footballer), Lionel Messi (Spanish Footballer), Ki Sung-Yueng (South Korean Footballer) ... the list of soccer players goes on.

Gillette xPeke

Gillette doesn't need to field or sponsor their own team as their ambassador program does the job. We've seen this strategy before in eSports - Red Bull is known for their personal sponsorships of Starcraft players and Bud Light did it last year with their All Star program.

Gillette's "Within Reach" commercial is joked as xPeke's "Sellout" video (Source: YouTube)

/2 TOURNAMENTS

Since Dollar Shave Club got ELEAGUE, Gillette went with something comparably big. Gillette also recently signed a deal to sponsor ESL IEM Katowice 2017. IEM Katowice is usually the largest event the company puts on and this year was no different, which extended to two weekends.

Gillette also sponsored the New England Patriots' Madden Club Series Championship. Gillette is a major partner of the Patriots, of which owner Robert Kraft is - cough, rumors, cough -  purchasing an Overwatch League franchise.

A Gillette Activation at IEM Katowice (Photo: YouTube)

A Gillette Activation at IEM Katowice (Photo: YouTube)

/3 CONTENT

A joint-venture between two media publications, Kotaku and Deadspin, was announced on Februrary 2017 to focus on eSports called Compete.

On May 13th, a Gillette-sponsored Street Figher V "Pros vs Joes" event was held at the Compete NYC headquarters.

Compete NYC HQ Street Fighter V event (Source: Compete)

Compete NYC HQ Street Fighter V event (Source: Compete)

Gillette's eSports strategy is reminiscent of Red Bull - who also have tons of personal sponsorships, integration with large events, and involvement with a media organization. 

Banner advertisement on Kotaku/Deadspin Compete. (Source: Compete)

Banner advertisement on Kotaku/Deadspin Compete. (Source: Compete)

Gillette's strategy also closely follows that of GEICO and how they've place their eSports bets.

Sounds like a good strategy to me.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 019: McLaren

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 019: MCLAREN

McLaren Enters eSports (Photo: YouTube)

McLaren Enters eSports (Photo: YouTube)

TNL Take: McLaren has opened up a new job role: they're looking to fill the "best job in eSports," or a one-year gig working as a McLaren simulator driver, through a competition to find the World's Fastest Gamer.

While the real "best job in eSports" is obviously giving hot-takes about the various Brands entering the scene and terrible research reports, we can humor them a bit.

World's Fastest Gamer Ad (Video: YouTube)

The World Fastest Gamer will pit 10 aspiring racing players against each other in a series of matches, engineering challenges, and their demonstration of teamwork. 6 will be invited to the event, while 4 will qualify through various online competitions.

World's Fasest Gamer Video (Video: YouTube)

The campaign was set in place by agency IDEAS+CARS (who launched professional team eSPORTS+CARS last year), which was founded by Darren Cox of GT Academy fame. For reference, GT Academy was a 2008-2016 television competition by Nissan and Playstation in which the year's winner got a job as a professional racer for Nissan.

Where have we heard that before?

GT Academy (Source: ilvideogioco)

GT Academy (Source: ilvideogioco)

The other partners for this event are LogitechG, who are pushing their steering wheel peripherals, Sparco, who were the gaming chair sponsor for the FIFA Ultimate Tournament this year, and GIVEMESPORT, the event's media sponsor.

Sparco FIFA Ultimate Team Sponsorship (Photo: Sparco)

Sparco FIFA Ultimate Team Sponsorship (Photo: Sparco)

Interesting to note is that the games for the competition have not been named, but will span PC, console, and mobile titles.

With the Sparco sponsorship and EA having a Racing title, will all the games be only from EA as this helps with both securing permission to run the competition and unifying the brand?

2015 McLaren 650S Coupe in Forza Horizon 3 (Photo: Forza)

2015 McLaren 650S Coupe in Forza Horizon 3 (Photo: Forza)

Racing games are a neglected topic among eSports viewers and players. The "premier" titles are iRacing and Project CARS, for their strict focus on competition and skill. Unfortunately almost any decision on game titles for this event, especially the inclusion of mobile, will be a polarizing one.

Racing games are tough from a viewership perspective but good from a casual fan viewpoint. 

It's a good genre for McLaren to invest in to preserve their traditional fanbase while growing a new one as the Auto Brands come cruising into eSports this year.