Esports isn’t just an American phenomenon: There are 35 million gamers in Germany alone, notes Niklas Timmermann, vice president of the German esports association ESBD.
Timmermann recently discussed the opportunities that the games offer sponsors with ISPO Digitize, including the ability to reach young target audiences. In Europe, while soccer club memberships have declined in some areas, participation in electronic gaming is booming. The chance to reach these audiences can help brands tap into new markets and interact with different audiences, he says.
The branding opportunities are also significant, Timmermann notes. In physical world sports, advertising is restricted to certain places on players’ uniforms. But in esports, he says, “Logos can be found on every free spot of the jerseys. Sleeves, the back, the front.”
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In just the first six months of 2018, 17 new brands have entered into German esports sponsorships, ISPO reports. These include global players such as Mercedes-Benz, DHL and Adidas, as well as smaller brands like sporting goods manufacturer Uhlsport and brewery Warsteiner.
But, there are challenges for sponsors to keep in mind, Timmermann told ISPO. As the sport grows in popularity, so too will advertising prices. And despite the growth of its infrastructure, the German electronic gaming market is still very unstructured and unpredictable. The success and stability of teams fluctuate from season to season—which can be exciting for fans, but unnerving for sponsors.
Brands also need to remember to keep their messaging on target. Mercedes used the slogan “Almost as good as our E-class” at a tournament, and was soundly mocked by fans, because the community neither wants nor needs such as vehicle. Know your audience and what they need, Timmermann recommends.