ESI Super Forum: Sponsorship in esports – Panel Assessment

09 April 2018


Here’s another look back at our Esports Insider Super Forum in March, this time the focus is on the brands and sponsorship panel.

Up for discussion was why brands need to play a different game when it comes to entering the industry. With Mercedes-Benz to McDonalds now involved in esports in some form, our panel discussed what works, and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. 

The panel was made up of a group of industry leaders, including moderator Duncan McMonagle, who is SVP & GM of Minute Media (DBLTAP, 90MIN and 12UP). He was joined by our panelists Fnatic Partnership Manager Frederic Weil, Esports and Marketing Manager at Super Evil Megacorp Tomek Borowka,  RFRSH Entertainment Founder and EVP Sales Jakob Lund Kristensen and Hashtag United Commercial Director Seb Carmichael-Brown.

McMonagle began by asking what may be the most important question in this domain; how do you market your assets to brands in a way that differs from what they get from traditional sports?

Weil was the first to speak up, with his vast experience in doing exactly this with Fnatic, saying that as esports is played digitally it is important to engage the audience in a way they are more comfortable with – “content, experiences and getting the stories going”.

“We’re the only football team in the world not in the results business – we’re in the storytelling business”

This was something reiterated by the entire panel throughout; Carmichael-Brown, in particular, working on one of YouTube’s biggest brands-turned-esports organisation, repeating  throughout how important content is not only to his own brand but to esports brands in general, making moving in to the space that much more streamlined. He said of Hashtag: “we’re the only football team in the world not in the results business – we’re in the storytelling business,” which is what makes Hashtag such a desirable brand for sponsors.

Naturally, the panellists touched on big partnerships such as that between Astralis and Audi, of which Kristensen was at the forefront of bringing together. Of it he said that there are certain rules to play by, but Audi bringing a product to them and giving them the creative freedom to play a bit outside the rules created a partnership that has marked a huge step forward for esports sponsorship and esports as a whole, with McMonagle saying it was “one of the most significant entries of an autos brand”. Looking to the future of esports through Audi’s eyes, Kristensen revealed that the company is looking worldwide for their future in the space, proof that Astralis are a perfect example of ‘doing it right’.

The panel also discussed a range of other deals including the involvement of Razer and Umbro in esports, whether winning is important to securing brand sponsorships, plus how important it is to have a mixture of purely competitive players and those with personality in an esports organisation.

The full video of this panel, and all others, will be available to watch soon.

All panels were orchestrated by carefully selected guests and experts in their particular topics and the day was a huge success, bridging the gap between esports and traditional sports and helping brands from all different industries formulate ideas, plans and discussion about how everyone can benefit from esports moving forward.

Our next major B2B event is ESI London, which is set to take place at the Olympia in September 18-20th.