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The Overwatch League homestand opener for the Dallas Fuel took place this weekend at the Esports Stadium Arlington, in Arlington, Texas, with league and sponsor branding visible across the span of the 100,000 square foot venue. Add to that the amount of activations taking place in conjunction with the event, and one could see there was clearly a demographic the event’s marketing team had in mind.
Now in its third season, this year’s Overwatch League is not what you knew it to be these past two seasons. The matches for the first two years were played at the Blizzard Arena at Burbank Studios in the iconic Studio 1 where the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson was filmed for years. This season, the teams have broken away from this central location and now play matches in their respective home venues.
With the move to its own venues, Overwatch League teams have an added expense to their operating costs that need to be offset. By proving that the stream viewership numbers are solid and foot traffic to the arenas is heavy, teams have had success in cultivating brand and sponsor partnerships.
Signage at the Venue
Once inside the venue, one can clearly see the team, league, and sponsorship branding that permeates the place. Frontier Communications’ logo was featured prominently throughout the stadium on billboards, video displays, and backdrops. The Frontier logos were displayed on their own or coupled with the homestand logo as the newly signed presenting sponsor of all of the Fuel’s homestands this season.
As far as other activations and branding, Greyhound, the official transportation sponsor for the Fuel, brought a luxury bus and prominently displayed it while handing out gray team towels.
Other sponsors such as Jack-In-The-Box, CORSAIR, GameStop, and Jack Links had signage well distributed over the event venue, as well as having their logos repeatedly shown on video screens and at fan eye-level height.
The venue, having the ability to be modular, created space across the hall of the main stage, which allowed a multitude of brand activations and logo placement to take place.
Food Vendors and Names
Inside the adjacent space from the main stage, outside food vendors along with the normal vending fare of the stadium supplemented the matches taking place inside the space. These vendors were also part of league branding using Overwatch gaming terms, to describe the food choices available.
For example, if you wanted nachos with everything, you could order Peacekeeper Nachos to go along with your Volskaya Champion’s Dog (a plain hot dog). The Peacekeeper is a revolver used by one of the heroes, Jesse McCree, while Volskaya is the name of a map the heroes play.
Jack-In-The-Box was not a part of the food choices available during the event, but was there in name as a good portion of signage had the company’s logo.
Gaming Personalities and Pro Player Meet-and-Greets
A slew of gaming personalities and voice actors–including Gaku Space, the voice of the Overwatch hero Genji–made appearances throughout the weekend, which saw fans flock to the booth to get autographs signed.
Additionally, the weekend also saw appearances by professional players from other esports titles who play for Envy Gaming, the parent company of the Dallas Fuel. Those players included CS:GO player Noah “Nifty” Francis and Smash professional Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett.
United States Marine Corps Video Game Booth
With the U.S Navy’s recent announcement that it would be changing their recruiting advertising strategy by moving away from television and basic cable and going digital to platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, the armed forces sees gamers as a vast recruiting pool.
With over 40% of the gaming population being between 17 – 30-years-old, the military now looks actively at this group for recruitment.
To that end, the Marines brought in a video game shooting simulator where ticket-holders could compete against the marines in a variety of target shooting contests. The organization set up a leaderboard which allowed people to see the names of the top players.
Also, attendees could compete against the Marines in a pull-up contest as it brought a pull-up apparatus from one of its training facilities.
The Burleson Independent School District Winter Invitational
The Burleson Independent School District (BISD) held the Winter Invitational that brought in roughly 500 students to compete in various video games including Fortnite, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., and Minecraft in a tournament-style format.
For an entry fee of $30 USD, students could sign up and compete in as many game titles as they wanted. They were also allowed inside the play area of the stadium to watch the Fuel play.
Dallas Fuel Owner and CEO Mike Rufail spoke to a representative from the BISD about the connection between esports, schools, and becoming mainstream.
“Our biggest priority is driving esports into the mainstream, and that starts here at home and with students today. We couldn’t be more excited to be supporting Burleson ISD,” Rufail said. “They get it; they see what’s on the horizon and are just as enthusiastic as we are to discover the next generation of esports stars.”
Rufail believes in esports as an entertainment product and wants to share it with not only the world, but especially those in the area of north Texas.
“Esports is a global phenomenon, but we are first and foremost a North Texas team,” said Dallas Fuel owner and CEO Mike Rufail to the BISD in an article.We can’t wait for them to join us and all the fans at Dallas Fuel Opening Weekend.”
Lastly, Zipchair was in the adjacent hall displaying different chair models that people could sit in and test while taking registrations for a chair giveaway. However, this was the only place in which the branding could be found – logo or otherwise.
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