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Non-endemic esports sponsorships continued their year-over-year rise in Q3 2019. The Esports Observer reported on 75 such deals from companies outside of the industry, which is a 74% increase over the 43 deals reported on in Q3 2018.
That’s an even larger increase than the 68% bump recorded between Q2 2019 and Q2 2018, although there were few overall non-endemic deals in Q3 than in Q2 2019 (82).
The quarter’s deals included major global brands such as Bud Light, Honda, Red Bull, Adidas, Louis Vuitton, and Starbucks, among many others. Here’s a look at some of the most prominent non-endemic sponsorships of Q3 2019.
Food and Drink
Food and drink continues to be one of the most significant growth categories for non-endemic esports sponsorships, with The Esports Observer reporting on 30 such deals in Q3 2019.
Anheuser-Busch InBev continued its push into esports by making Bud Light the official beer of the NBA 2K League, which joins the Overwatch League (OWL) in its sponsorship portfolio. Bud Light also sponsored OWL team the Los Angeles Valiant’s first homestand weekend in late August, dubbed the “Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend,” and sponsored Bandai Namco’s Tekken World Tour while partnering with Twitch for a Bud Light Tekken 7 Beer League tournament series.
Other notable Q3 alcohol partnerships include New Belgium Brewing Company teaming with Dignitas Super Smash Bros. player Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez, China’s Harbin Brewery sponsoring LGD Gaming, and Team Secret launching a branded “AFK” craft beer with Levante Brewing Company.
Energy drink brand Red Bull added another team to its roster, signing a multi-year partnership with G2 Esports. The deal includes jersey placement, as well as content creation and event activations. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola became the exclusive beverage partner of collegiate esports organization Tespa, and PepsiCo signed a new deal with Immortals Gaming Club to keep MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL as a jersey sponsor of both Immortals and MIBR. ESL also named MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL its official global beverage partner for events through 2020.
EA Sports focused on food and drink partners for its Madden NFL 20 Championship Series, naming Pizza Hut, Snickers, and Starbucks as official sponsors. Meanwhile, Kellogg’s made a big push in Q3, signing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Overwatch League for its Pringles and Cheez-It brands. Pringles also sponsored the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) Summer Finals, and will sponsor the upcoming DreamHack Winter 2019.
Smartphones and Tech
Chinese smartphone maker OPPO made a big splash for its first esports deal, agreeing with Riot Games to sponsor international League of Legends competitions through 2024. The deal begins with the 2019 World Championship, which concludes in Paris on Nov. 10.
AT&T expanded its events partnership with ESL and added sister company DreamHack into the mix, with the ESL Mobile Open spanning stops at events from both companies in North America. Meanwhile, Huawei was named sponsor and smartphone provider of the Vodafone 5G ESL Mobile Open Finals in Europe.
Other notable tech industry sponsorships during the quarter include the Overwatch League naming Comcast’s Xfinity brand the presenting partner of the OWL playoffs and Grand Finals, with assets featured both in broadcasts and at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Overactive Media’s OWL team, the Toronto Defiant, added Canon Canada as a multi-year sponsor, while networking/dating app Bumble sponsored Gen.G Esports’ all-women Fortnite team.
Honda, which partnered with Team Liquid in March, was named the exclusive automotive partner of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in August. Toyota, meanwhile, became the BLAST Pro Series’ first car partner by sponsoring September’s Moscow stop, and Mercedes-Benz sponsored the addition of a Dota 2 tournament to the UK ESL Premiership.
Astralis Group, known for its dominating Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, announced the formation of a Future FC FIFA team—and added Audi as a sponsor. It was reported to be a three-year deal worth at least $1M USD per year. Chinese team Invictus Gaming found a partner in American automobile maker Chevrolet, with plans to promote its Tracker SUV.
Fashion and apparel brands made some headline esports deals in Q3, led by Adidas’ partnership with Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. The partners will collaborate on apparel and digital content, although no products have been revealed yet.
In other team and player deals, Nike signed a multi-year deal with Brazilian team FURIA Esports, Puma inked a two-year agreement with Australian team ORDER, and Bauer Hockey made its first deal with a gaming influencer by signing NHL 20 content creator Andrew “Nasher” Telfer.
Riot Games also partnered with fashion brand Louis Vuitton, but not for physical apparel. Instead, the brand will design the trophy travel case for the League of Legends World Championship’s “Summoner’s Cup,” as well as in-game outfits and items. The deal will span multiple years.
New and Notable
Beyond those popular categories, there were several other prominent non-endemic sponsorship deals worth noting from Q3 2019. Here are some of the highlights.
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