TNL Esports Brand Tracker 011: Mercedes-Benz

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.

Content partnership with Esports Marketing Blog.

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.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 004: Audi and Astralis


TNL eSports Brand Tracker 004: Audi and Astralis (Photo: Astralis)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 004: Audi and Astralis (Photo: Astralis)

Astralis Sneak Preview Tweet (Photo: @mannyanekal Twitter)

Astralis Confirms Audi Partnership (Photo: Astralis)

While few details of the partnership have been revealed, the team and Athlete's Social Media accounts have been doing plenty of promotion with Astralis even being chauffeured to this weekend's ELEAGUE Major in the Audi Q7:

Astralis Rolling In The Audi Q7 To The ELEAGUE Major (Photo: Astralis)

There were also some rumors of a $750,000 price tag.

I'm calling BS on that number.

Currently the partnership is only for the current ELEAGUE Major and DreamHack Las Vegas next month. Considering this deal came through Audi Denmark and looks to be a very short promotion, the $750,000 figure is way too high.

This isn't Audi's first foray into eSports either having sponsored the 24 Hours Of Le Mans event last year.

In The Next Level 012, I analyzed how Auto Brands have been reluctant to sponsor eSports.

The last Auto and eSports team Sponsorship was between Nissan and Team Curse/Team Liquid which started in 2013 - but no longer.

As more Auto Brands like Audi, Ford, Hyundai, Michelin, Mobil1, Uber, and Turtle Wax continue to invest in eSports, hopefully 2017 will bring more into the eSports ecosystem.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 032: Visa and Formula E


TNL eSports Brand Tracker 036: Visa (Photo: Formula E)

TNL Take: The first EU Financial Services Brand makes the eSports investment with Visa Europe's Sponsorship of Formula E's eSports Pro Series.

This deal makes sense for a few reasons:


Visa has long been associated with Auto Racing and is currently a Sponsor of Formula E's main electric Racing Series. Overlapping that Sponsorship into eSports is a no brainer and they may not even have paid that much.


Along with sponsoring the live streaming eSports events, Visa gets an opportunity to activate onsite at Racing events as they did recently in London.

Visa London ePrix eSports Event (Photo: Formula E)


This was more than likely known when the deal was announced in April, but Formula E and Visa also get distribution on UK's 24/7 eSports channel, Ginx TV, through a recent deal.

While those are all good there's one very big challenge.


Racing eSports has no audience


While I've said this before - and believe this will change over time - it's very challenging to drive viewership for Racing eSports as 2016 is basically Year Zero for the genre.

Here's the audience for a June race:


Who was the audience for the London ePrix event when I checked?


Racing eSports Lack of Audience (Photo: Twitch)

Racing eSports Lack of Audience (Photo: Twitch)