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Marketing agency Jung von Matt has announced the creation of a new company and legal entity that will focus on digital pop culture. The new entity, called JvM/NERD, will be led by Toan Nguyen, a Jung von Matt partner who was at the forefront of the company’s push into esports.
Nguyen began his career with JvM in 2009 as an intern, and over time rose up to become the chief strategist and shareholder for JvM/SPORTS, establishing the company’s branches for influencer marketing and esports. During that time, JvM/SPORTS has been involved with companies such as Mercedes-Benz, adidas, Pringles, and McDonald’s.
“Whenever you talk about pop culture, the first thing you need to do, is to truly embrace their language, signs, symbols, and artifacts,” Nguyen told The Esports Observer. “It’s really about the nuances, the little details and those things that may mean nothing to the mainstream, but everything to the community.”
Despite his heavy involvement with Jung von Matt’s esports activity, the category will remain with JvM/SPORTS. Nguyen will continue to act as a partner for the company while account director Carl Kuhn will oversee operations.
— McDonald’s Deutschland (@McDonaldsDENews) October 16, 2019
According to Nguyen, his new role will not impact Jung von Matt’s esports strategy, and the category will remain “a top priority.” He added that the company will work with new brands in 2020, and that “the level of operations and creative executions simply require a massive amount of people.” He explained that due to esports’ similarities to traditional sports, the larger team at JvM/SPORTS will be better equipped to serve the needs of clients in the space. “It’s about team management, league operations, live-experiences, sponsor- and media-partnerships. Jung von Matt/SPORTS with its now 100 employees can serve all those needs.”
In his view, Nguyen feels that gaming itself is slightly different from esports. “A lot of this is not only fictional but also genuine art and ultimately a big opportunity for brands.”
The rise of gaming, accelerated by the popularity of Fortnite, has made it an attractive place for brands looking to move away from traditional marketing streams. Fortnite in particular has been leveraged by multiple film studios to promote movies ranging from John Wick and Star Wars to Marvel’s Avengers. The National Football League has also leveraged Fortnite and its most well-known streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins across a variety of activations in an effort to engage with a younger audience. Currently, Fortnite is largely an exception in terms of in-game and pop-culture-focused marketing strategies, but that will likely change in the near future.
Because of the similarity to traditional sports, many brands are able to dip their toes into digital pop culture first through esports with activations that feel at least somewhat familiar to what they have implemented in the stick-and-ball realm. However, esports is just a small piece of the much larger gaming pie.
Market research firm Newzoo grabbed headlines in early 2019 by projecting that the esports market would generate revenues in excess of $1B USD that year, but its projection for gaming as a whole was over $150B. Through esports, brands can grow to understand digital culture and the more content-focused, meme-centric methods that resonate with that audience before expanding into the larger gaming market.
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