It’s a known fact that getting into esports as a non endemic brand can be difficult. But, there are other ways apart from sponsoring a weekend tournament or even going through the charity route via ‘association’ by raising funds for a cause.
If you skipped the title, don’t worry – I got you. The answer is influencers and streamers.
But, why is this a good channel especially for non endemic brands?
Many organizations that are generally not considered to be part of the gaming ecosystem but are looking to be associated can be seen as a risky move.
How will the larger community feel when they see a not so typical brand looking to be part of the gaming industry?
Will the gaming title even be around for the next year because of people looking to try out a new game?
For influencer marketing, in my opinion - it is a bit of a safer bet. If the influencer happens to jump from one gaming title to another, it's potentially another audience the brand can be exposed to. However, that's not to say there isn't any risk as well.
But while it sounds easy for brands to say, "Let's make room for influencer marketing in our budget this year", there’s still more at play than one might actually expect. But, the ultimate goal is to approach the partnership with the mindset of creating content that is beneficial for educating their following.
Linked here is a previous article of non endemic brands entering the gaming space through cause related marketing.
Nate Black also previews the digital space of brands in his kick off issue of the ABCs.
The Right Partnership
To successfully build the right partnership, brands must be smart about who they partner along with clearly identifying goals of the campaign. For the influencer in my opinion, they should be a fan of the partnering brand (or at the very least, familiar with the products) while telling an authentic story that connects with their followers for the partnership to work. A creator’s following can easily sniff out the authenticity of the relationship.
To emphasize further: Both the influencers and the brand’s beliefs and values must architecturally line up.
I have always felt that in this day and age, brands have to be able to humanize themselves so people can connect with them.
As someone who follows content creators and the gaming industry, the relationship must be even tighter than a typical brand-property relationship. This is important especially when it comes to micro influencers who are making a big impact due to social proof. Micro influencers naturally have a way to connect with their audiences because they may be niche in their content creation category or they genuinely engage with their following consistently.
Ask yourself this: Who are you more likely to purchase a product or service? Beyonce or a friend who happens to also be an expert in ‘xyz’?
I’m sure that while you may love Queen B (because who doesn’t?), friends or communities who have that social pull due to their genuine connections in expertise or values will have a much more impactful value add. Remember it has always been about community before commerce.
Let’s dig into some scenarios and two previous case studies.
Gen.G x Benefits Cosmetics
We gently and briefly highlighted Benefits Cosmetics before as a non endemic brand entering the world of gaming and esports. One can argue that makeup and cosmetics are synonymous to cosplay which does play a part in the gaming ecosystem. Nonetheless, the reason why we come back to this case study is because makeup arguably is one of those things that helps instill confidence in a person.
In gaming, let alone esports, there just isn’t enough women representing the industry. For women and young girls aspiring to be streamers or to break into professional gaming, it’s important for brands allies to help out and amplify their voices.
The Benefits Cosmetics partnership did a wonderful job with @snitchery as a host digging into the behind the scenes of content creation with the streamers they brought on board. The questions and issues surrounding women streaming are highlighted in this episode above with League of Legends streamer, @kittyplays. She then goes on to talk about her experience and how putting on makeup puts her in this frame of mind that it’s ‘game time’, hence the ‘Game Face’ theme.
“After serving women for more than 40 years in the beauty business, we at Benefit know how empowering makeup can be when women use it as a tool for expression, creativity, and self love,” said Lisa Li, Director Global Digital Marketing, Benefit Cosmetics. “Women make up almost half of the audience watching and playing games. We are so excited to share these episodes with both the gaming and beauty communities through this work with Gen.G and these women who are leading the industry forward. To us, putting on your ‘Game Face’ means getting ready to own your day.”
The lesson here: Find themes that are part of the gaming and esports industry and start the conversation. It will become much more powerful as it can be amplified to help push the growth of inclusivity and confidence.
Valkyrae x sweetgreen
Though Valkyrae isn’t a microinfluencer, the example in this case study is that her beliefs and values line up with the American health conscious brand, sweetgreen.
Quoting her pre-existing gut issues and potential auto immune skin disorder, the Among Us streamer plans to watch her diet much more meticulously. This itself not only bodes well for her fanbase but it continues the trajectory of healthier eating habits for the gaming community.
The sugary drinks and less nutrient dense food have always been fairly endemic to the gaming ecosystem but due to changing consumer habits and esport athletes looking to make approach their lifestyle with much more care, sweetgreen can be a big player in this theme.
Could we see Valkyrae creating more content in the kitchen with nutrient dense meals? One thing’s for certain, her following will be able to view and order her personal salad that consist of wholesome ingredient and nutrient dense food. In addition to the influencer activation, sweetgreen will give three customers who uploads and produces the most creative salad mix on TikTok has a chance to win a free year of sweetgreen.
The lesson here again: Find themes and habits that surround the industry and start the conversation. The community is looking for ways to learn and apply their learnings. Could we see banks make a play at financial literacy or insurance companies for the generation who are the next drivers?