Pushing your marketing efforts into a new frontier, especially in a sponsorship effort, it can be intimidating and might not see the most success if you don’t know the audience. This can be especially true in the esports space, as sponsorship opportunities are traditionally seen as just for endemic brands creating products exclusively for gamers.
As one of the biggest esports events approached, the 2019 League of Leagues World Championship, Riot Games worked with a variety of endemic and non-endemic brands to help maximize their partnerships around their biggest tournament. What followed was a variety of activations, especially on social media, that brought a return to all parties involved and are great examples to follow for proper sponsorship in sports.
Data from Twitter and Instagram from 10/2/2019 – 11/10/2019
The fashion luxury brand announced its partnership with Riot Games as the group stages of Worlds were announced. To the outsider, this might seem like a weird partnership that would not work. However, after Worlds, Louis Vuitton saw higher value from social post engagement than any other partner.
- Summoners Cup Trunk: The championship trophy was carried around in a Louis Vuitton case. As the final matchup drew closer, this case was advertised heavily in social content and appeared quite frequently in Paris for the final. Also, during the opening ceremony, the case helped add to the spectacle.
- In-Game Skins For Players: A way that game developers can further monetize after fans purchase their products is through in-game rewards or skins. These skins can be unique and can showcase a player’s personality in-game. LV partnered with Riot Games to offer skins for players to buy in-game, which they advertised and posted about over their own social channels. They also had an Instagram Story filter for fans to post with as the Finals approached.
- Clothes & Accessories For Teams And Performers: Louis Vuitton gave participating teams bags and accessories to bring with them to the Final. FunPlus PhoeniX thanked LV on social, letting their fans know of the brand’s gesture. Performers in the Opening Ceremony of the Finals also wore Louis Vuitton on-stage, tagging them in any photos they shared on their personal channels to boot.
SOCIAL SPONSORSHIP VALUE: $1,000,254
AUDIENCE FACT: Those that interacted with Louis Vuitton content around Worlds are 5.8x more likely to have an affinity for luxury brands and 2.8x more likely to have an affinity for fashion than the average Worlds viewer in 2019.
Mastercard and League of Legends have worked together since 2018 and have a multi-year partnership in place. Their presence was a staple throughout the year and was taken to the next level throughout Worlds.
- Creating Unique Social Accounts: Large brands across the world will oftentimes have specific accounts devoted to specific countries or US states to help them be more targeted in their messaging. Very rarely will they have these devoted to a specific sport, and that’s what Mastercard did with “Mastercard Nexus.” Posting like a fan, this was the account used primarily in the social conversation when referencing the credit card company.
- Digital Co-Branded Content: Throughout the month, Mastercard sponsored digital content on Twitter and Instagram. From polls encouraging fan voting on who would win matchups to social summaries of the tournament to fun content with on-air personalities, Mastercard was the most active brand during Worlds when it came to co-branded content.
- Event Sponsorship: Mastercard sponsored more than just digital content but physical activations that got plenty of love on social media. The Esports Village was a hub for fans to interact with sponsors and teams in an engaging way. They also sponsored the Opening Ceremony, which saw some incredible production value and had clips shared across social media.
SOCIAL SPONSORSHIP VALUE: $1,074,287
AUDIENCE FACT: Those that interacted with Mastercard content around Worlds are 35% more likely to be business decision-makers than the average Worlds viewer in 2019.
Thanks to @MastercardNexus for allowing @RiotQuickshot and I to surprise our fans with tickets to #Worlds2019 Finals 😍 Some absolutely Priceless reactions 😉 #TogetherWeAdvance #Sponsored pic.twitter.com/GAnTHRCOMG— Eefje Depoortere (@sjokz) November 8, 2019
The smart device brand based out of China partnered with Riot Games and it was announced at the end of September. For devices showcasing themselves at events, it’s best to get your product in the sample audiences’ hands, especially gamers who love consumer electronics. OPPO did just that.
- OPPO MVP: From the get-go, the MVP of the Finals was to be sponsored by OPPO. As FPX beat G2 Esports and swept them in convincing fashion, Tian of FPX was awarded MVP. The hashtag #OPPOMVP tied back to the sponsorship activation on social.
- Product Placement On-Site: At the Esports Village in Paris, where sponsors had fun activations for fans, OPPO encouraged fans to explore Paris using AR activations on-site. Also, as the MVP trophy was awarded, the CEO of Riot Games took a selfie with an OPPO phone on-stage with Tian.
- Opportunities To Win Tickets: As part of their activation at the Esports Village, fans could win tickets for the Finals from OPPO. They also partnered with French gaming team Solary to give fans the chance to win tickets as well. Smart to get involved locally with teams
SOCIAL SPONSORSHIP VALUE: $160,021
AUDIENCE FACT: 36% of those who interacted with Oppo content during Worlds are from France, which is 13x greater than the percentage of people who live in France and follow Oppo already.
- Collaboration is key for activations. Do work that will benefit both parties. From fashion to tech, Riot Games gave a variety of brands relevant content that tied back into the overall brand messaging for said partners.
- Don’t just rely on the sports team/league/publisher to post content. Interject yourself intelligently into the conversation as well, as that will add value to your partnership to boot. A common trend among all of these brands was that they posted about Worlds, whether from main company accounts, geo-targeted accounts, or League-specific accounts.
- Diversify your approach. Don’t just put all of your eggs in one basket. Whether it’s with a league, individual teams, or individual content creators, don’t limit yourself in terms of who you work with. Figure out who can best help optimize your brand messaging.