Branding

There is probably no better sport that combines fandom with marketable product than esports and that’s not only because the esports market is massive and growing, but the items that are being sponsored within the games are actually products that the athletes use to play and succeed in the games with, i.e., a BenQ monitor might actually be the best type of monitor a League of Legends player can use because it might actually be technically superior to a competitor’s monitor because of a higher frame rate.

Today, people say esports has a Wild, Wild West aspect to it and, in Asia, it’s exponentially wilder than the West. We call the region “The Wild, Wild East” and it’s an environment that is much more unstructured, with much less logic, fewer rules, exponentially more players – there are 200 live streaming apps inside China, all craving for original and live-streaming content – and a fanbase that is growing exponentially.

There is also a limited legal and copyright protection environment there, so there are very real issues one has to deal with. You also have to be aware of the content that you’re dealing with and, up until now, esports hasn’t proved problematic. Quite the opposite, actually, as the Chinese government has embraced it, even sanctioning esports as a legitimate sport, even allowing athletes to travel with special athlete visas, just like France, England, and several other forward-thinking countries. This all adds wind to the sails of esports and legitimizes it for worldwide sponsors, brands, and advertisers.

The infrastructure is also being put in place by several real estate developers. Arenas designed specifically for esports are being developed in Malaysia, China, and several other Asian cities. One of esports events Intelligencia was involved with -- the Girl Gamer Festival -- had Alibaba Cloud as one of its sponsors and, with the Macau and Lisbon festivals, Alibaba Cloud distributed the tournament feed to several live-streaming websites, apps, and channels within China. The online audience in China was huge. On Quanmin.TV alone each one of the games was viewed by up to 25,000 people. The 2018 tournament received 20+ million visitors in China through YouKu, one of Alicloud's partners.

The audience was not just in the young 18-24 year-old demographic. The average age of an esports viewer is in his or her 30s. With esports, language barriers are almost non-existent. The games are exceptionally visual and you don’t necessarily need a caster commentating on the action, as the thousands of successful channels on Twitch clearly prove. The Girl Gamer Festival was broadcast in English, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish. 

Esports is truly a global phenomena and brands that have a global product should be clambering to get on board because the marketing reach of esports truly is global and 24/7, in way that is right up there with the EPL. No US sports leagues can consider itself truly global in the way that esports can. It’s a 24-hour sport. Currently, some of the biggest esports sponsors are companies like Google, Sony, Microsoft, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Doritos, and Red Bull, as well as content platforms like Twitch and retailers like Gamestop, but any company wanting to reach a young, affluent, and thriving demographic should look at esports sponsorships.

There are a multitude of industries that would benefit from esports sponsorship, including:

  • Air delivery/shipping – Fed Ex, SF Express, LBC, etc.
  • Airlines
  • App software
  • Apparel
  • Automobile manufacturers
  • Auto dealership
  • Banks
  • Beverage manufacturers
  • Breweries
  • Broadband services
  • Computer hardware manufacturers
  • Computer systems
  • Credit services
  • Film distributors and/or theaters
  • Investments
  • Drug manufacturers
  • Health insurers
  • Insurance brokers
  • IT – cloud services
  • Newspapers
  • Real estate companies
  • Resorts and Casinos
  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Security and protection
  • Software publishers
  • Sporting goods
  • Tobacco (
  • Telco providers
  • Utilities

With esports the cameras are, literally, in the faces of the athletes and sponsors actually love that aspect of the game because they can market their products right on an athlete’s head (headphones, microphones) or through their fingertips (keyboard, mouse) and since the camera is right on the athletes for a large part of the stream of broadcast, the sponsor’s logo is highly visible. There are lots of shots of the players in action so sponsors get a lot of screen time, more so than many other sports. But the huge difference is that these products are actually being used to play these games. BenQ sponsors monitors at ESL to show that its monitors, which have an exceptionally high frame refresh rate, are what the pros use and it’s that exceptionally high frame rate that might, literally, be the difference between life and death (at least in the game). You see that frame refresh rate of 144 FPS could give a player that fractional edge that allows him to see something his opponent didn’t and that could very well be the difference between victory and defeat. So here, you have a sponsor who is actually selling something that could really make a difference to the average player.

Intelligencia works with many of today's biggest esports producers and can show you the best branding and sponsorship opportunities available to reach viewers in the millions.