TNL Esports Brand Tracker 012: Lionsgate

Global content leader Lionsgate announced a partnership with the Los Angeles Valiant of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League to promote season three of the Starz Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead.

The partnership, which will see Ash vs Evil Dead become the Valiant’s sole and exclusive jersey sponsor through at least Stage 2 of the inaugural season of Overwatch League.

Ari Segal, LA Valiant’s President and COO said, “Ash vs Evil Dead is a content property that is highly contextual to gaming and to our core demo and fan base. By creating truly unique, money-can’t-buy experiences for our fans around that property, we elevate the fan experience to something that aims at more than merely being a fan of a team; instead, we’re building a real community of people that activates around not only the Valiant, but also other properties or events from which it derives value and enjoyment.”

Peter Levin, the LA Valiant’s Chairman and Lionsgate’s President of Interactive Ventures, Games, and Digital Strategy, continued, “The Valiant’s audience, the audience for Overwatch League and esports generally, is one of the most elusive and yet highly sought after demographics. At both Lionsgate and the LA Valiant, we continue to think three dimensionally about how to reach and authentically connect with that constituency.”

As part of the sponsorship, Valiant fans will be given unprecedented access to Ash vs Evil Dead experiences, including exclusive screenings at Lionsgate’s studios in Santa Monica, Q&A/AMAs with creative voices behind the franchise, meet-and-greets, and more.

Lionsgate-Announces-Landmark-partnership-with-Overwatch-League-Club-to-Promote-Starz-Original-Series-Ash-vs-Evil-Dead-Image2.jpg

LA Valiant CEO Noah Whinston added, “This jersey sponsorship is a message to our fans that we will continue to work with partners and brands that look to add value to the fan experience. Lionsgate is completely aligned with us on this philosophy, as evidenced by this landmark partnership, and we will continue to create and integrate brands, events, and content to push the frontier of how teams create differentiated and lasting connections.

The new Ash vs Evil Dead-sponsored jerseys debuted in competition during the first week of Overwatch League’s Stage 2.  The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead will premiered Sunday, February 25, 2018, on Starz.

[Edit: The premiere reached 220,000 viewers and a slight drop from last year which can most likely be attributed to going head-to-head against The Walking Dead. 

The second episode dropped further with 171,000 viewers and shows the challenges of going up against the #1 cable rated show for the day. For perspective, The Walking Dead reached over 6 million viewers]

Content partnership with Esports Marketing Blog

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 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 004: Audi and Astralis

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.