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Blue-chip sponsors were plentiful in the fan zone area during the Overwatch League Grand Finals.
Among the brands activating or selling: Fanatics, Bud Light, Coca-Cola, State Farm, Upper Deck, Kellogg’s, Toyota, and T-Mobile. Activision Blizzard’s marketing team helped the brands craft activation ideas that play into certain aspects of the Overwatch videogame or league.
For example, Coca-Cola’s activation allowed fans to jump into a foam pit while striking the pose of Overwatch character Tracer, whose silhouette has become the league’s logo. State Farm let fans design and then print signs to bring into the arena for the competition.
Bud Light had a branded truck with “Payload” in bold lettering, playing off a feature of the actual Overwatch videogame, in which players push a payload vehicle that unlocks special healing powers. In this case, fans walked with the truck from a nearby parking lot to the fan zone, where the truck then unloaded the beer and gave it out to fans over the age of 21.
Josh Cella, head of global partnerships for Activision Blizzard Esports, said the Overwatch League and its partners stepped up their fan zone presence in a big way this year versus last year, when the league was just getting underway and held its inaugural Grand Finals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“You don’t even get to where we are without those phenomenal partners. We’re learning from them, and they’re learning from us,” Cella said. “They’re helping prop up Overwatch League, just like we’re helping them connect with new consumers. It’s really such an awesome relationship we have with all these tremendous brands, one where the value exchange is important in both directions.”
Earlier in the weekend, Cella and other Overwatch League and game executives held a sponsor summit with around 175 attendees at The Rittenhouse Hotel. This was another example of the league working to help sponsors better understand not only the league but the game itself.
At the Grand Finals, many fans wore jerseys from various Overwatch League teams, with the hometown Philadelphia Fusion and Houston Outlaws having a heavy presence. The line for Overwatch League merchandise at the Fanatics hauler was more than a dozen people deep for hours throughout the morning and early afternoon.
Adam Stern is a staff writer for Sports Business Journal, where this story first appeared.
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