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 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.