Formula 1, golf, tennis, stadium naming rights - and now esports.
Since the end of last year, Mercedes-Benz has sponsored not only traditional sports but also esports as a partner of ESL One.
After the sponsorship of ESL One Hamburg in October 2017, tournament sponsorship for Mercedes-Benz continues with ESL One in Katowice this past weekend.
In the run-up to the tournament, we spoke with Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars, about the success achieved so far and the tournament in Poland.
Esports is a huge trend. As a new sponsor in esports, which opportunities do you see for Mercedes-Benz?
Jens Thiemer: First of all, esports is the perfect tool for reaching young people. It is an important piece, which is a big part in our branded entertainment initiatives. It's an enhancement for our brand in reaching and gaining enthusiasm into new target groups and therefore, I think we are very well positioned with our plan to support esports in a substantial way for the future.
How does esports sponsoring differ from traditional sports sponsoring?
Jens Thiemer: Compared to many sport structures you would consider as more traditional – take soccer, tennis or other sports – esports is much more dynamic. Esports is offering us a lot of flexibility, so we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we just act as a pure sponsor. We can act as a real partner. For me, it is one of the perfect examples for being a co-creational partner for big tournaments. We are partnering for example with ESL, which is giving us great possibilities to create real value for the target group.
The collaboration with ESL started last year in Hamburg. How were the first experiences as an esports sponsor?
Jens Thiemer: For us, this was a complete success. Per day, we were not only meeting more than ten thousand fans and of course, we were seeing millions of fans on the streaming portals, but in addition we were able to test out a new activation. We added a new thing: We call it the Mercedes MVP. We honored the best player of the tournament with the fans voting for it and in addition, it was not just the honor which was given to the player, but we also gave a completely new Mercedes-Benz car to the MVP which was highly appreciated as you can imagine.
How did the fans react to Mercedes-Benz’ sponsorship acitvities??
Jens Thiemer: We are one of the very rare companies which is not perceived as the so-called endemic sponsors in that surrounding; we are a completely new player in that field. I was absolutely positively surprised about the very positive feedback we received. I think we are partner on eye level with the esports community. It is amazing how that community gets directly in touch with new partners as us and appreciate its commitment to esports in general.
The first Dota 2 Major tournament is about to take place in Katowice, Poland. How important is this particular tournament for Mercedes-Benz?
Jens Thiemer: Katowice has been the epicentre for European esports for quite a while. That is due to the Intel Extreme Masters which was Europe’s first big esports event ever. With that tournament in the last few years, the city has been building a reputation as a place that is open to modern technology and especially also to youth culture. Katowice has established itself by hosting that tournament for quite a while. Therefore we are very proud to be an additional partner of the first Dota 2 Major tournament in this great city.
A lot of experts see esports as hype that is just beginning. Do you agree with this?
Jens Thiemer: I absolutely agree and Esports is a mass phenomenon. You see rising figures all around the world, you see enormous prize money, you see millions of viewers on streaming portals and it's just a fascinating platform. I am convinced that one day esports will be bigger than soccer today and it has not reached its fullest potential yet. There will be many more things to come.