Some automotive brands are still in first gear when it comes to esports. Others have committed multiple years worth of sponsorship dollars to connecting with the space, including integration into content, and most recently; team endorsements. one of the latest, BMW, drew significant attention when it partnered with five of the largest team brands, representing three continents.
The #UnitedinRivalry social media campaign features all five teams who, particularly in the game of League of Legends, have bitterly competed over the highest prizes. Cloud9, FunPlus Phoenix, Fnatic, G2 Esports, and T1 all joined in collaborative social media engagement across multiple platforms, and this is just the start.
Jung von Matt, a German advertising agency, conceived and implemented the campaign. Carl Kuhn, account director/esports at Jung von Matt/SPORTS told The Esports Observer that the process began around the middle of last year, and from the start, BMW wanted to go large.
“Nobody was trying for a test case, or having their logo on a small event. It was immediately the thought of doing something big,” he said. “The idea is pretty clear from the assets that they ultimately contracted: they wanted the best.”
The one-global approach allowed each team to localize in their respective markets, whether that be Europe, North America, or China. The vast geographical distances between the teams actually worked to their advantage. Jan Anderßen, group client service director at Jung von Matt/NEXT ALSTER, explained that BMW’s headquarters could set up a system that worked for all major destinations.
“It was quite important that all major destinations were represented by all the teams,” said Anderßen. “[BMW] made their first experience within sim car racing, and were pretty sure it was a good market to invest in, and to go deeper in.”
While official numbers on the campaign are still being collected, individual interactions were picked up by the community. The boisterous CEO of G2 Esports, Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez, was as usual playfully mocked by his own team…
To celebrate our partnership with @BMW we got you a new set of wheels.
The Social Team pic.twitter.com/rIC3ehTEyY
— G2 Esports (@G2esports) April 16, 2020
…while Cloud9 and T1 began sparring over the size of their cars.
— Joe Marsh (@JoeMar) April 16, 2020
Kuhn said that the five-way rivalry made sense for both BMW and the teams, as the latter would not have to bend themselves out of shape in their communications. “I believe rivalry, on and off the server, is a huge element of esports, and a lot of what makes the fans flock to it. Instead of stifling that, we decided to put that in the spotlight.”
Car companies have, in the past, used live events and physical fan interaction as a key part of their partnerships. In light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Jung von Matt had to slightly shift the campaign towards the digital side. “Initially we had some on the ground and live elements planned for it, but the idea was from the get-go to take it to that truly global level, to make it mostly digital,” said Kuhn.
BMW not only promoted the partnership through its own social channels, but also reshared content from the teams, including the Spring Split victory posts for T1, Cloud9, and G2 Esports. The agency has also hinted that the campaign would see the first use of in-game advertising for BMW, but this is still currently in progress.
For auto manufacturers, esports is a long play. While a sizable part of the audience is enthusiastic for high-performance cars, vehicle purchasing for millenials has dropped considerably in recent years, at least compared to Gen X and boomers.
Jung von Matt has guided multiple traditional brands into esports, including Mercedes-Benz and McDonald’s. Kuhn said it was important for a company to understand what it wants to be within esports. It’s a sharp community; young and well educated, and critical of those that break in but make a quick getaway.
“You have to be tailor-made in your comms, and you have to reinterpret your brand, both for those people and the surrounding games you’re going to be in,” he said. “The idea is to have an image transformation for the brand, and in order to do that you need to have a long term plan, and you need to stick with it.”
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