EA Sports’ Madden Championship Series, thanks to its close ties with the NFL, has had no trouble bringing in major brands.
Today EA announced Gillette, Campbell’s, Oakley, and Snickers as new partners. Only Snickers is a hold over from last year where the candy brand was joined by Bose and New Era. All four of the new brands have done some working in gaming or esports, as well as being brand partners of the NFL.
“Our partnership with EA SPORTS and Madden is the perfect melding of two core marketing platforms for Gillette, the NFL and gaming, leveling up our presence in both,” said Greg Via VP of Global Sports and Esports Marketing at Gillette. “Following the successful launch of the Gillette Style Zone in Madden NFL 21, we’re excited to add to our esports programs by sponsoring the Madden Championship Series. This partnership is not only an extension of Gillette’s rich heritage of sports marketing, but also of Gillette’s standing as one of the first non-endemic brands in gaming and esports.”
Each of the four brands has one key activation dedicated to the brand. Gillette will be the sponsor of the Gillette Style Zone within The Yard, a place where players can customize characters. Snickers will be the sponsor of a top plays segment titled #SnickersTop5Plays. Campbell’s will be a sponsor of a tournament later in the season and Oakley will be the presenting sponsor of Derwin James Vs. The World, a series where James, a star safety for the Los Angeles Chargers, will take on other NFL players in Madden.
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EA Sports has shifted its esports strategy during the pandemic, focusing primarily on entertainment which has led to bringing in athletes to play semi-serious competitions.
“Gillette has been involved in esports for a while, but we really love EA’s approach to competitive gaming entertainment,” Via said to Esports Insider. “As part of our partnership, we are very excited about owning Tuesday night with Madden, and given we don’t have live events right now, the Tuesday night content series is a fantastic example of how that can come to life with MCS, King of the Hill and the Derwin James vs. the World content.”
Snickers and Gillette are the two brands of these four that have done a lot of work in esports. Snickers has been a partner of ELEAGUE, FlyQuest, RLCS and the NBA 2K League.
Gillette has touched plenty of prominent esports titles including League of Legends, Overwatch, Dota 2, VALORANT, and FIFA. While sports simulations can occupy a different role in esports, they do bring an extra benefit to consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies – being rooted in reality.
Sure plenty of League of Legends characters have beards but Gillette finds a natural fit in sports simulations as they can allow for editing of hair on a human face, not the face of a centuries old wizard.
“Having the opportunity to combine our commitment to the NFL with its flagship video game is a huge asset and a very natural fit for us,” Via said to Esports Insider. “Behind the avatars are real players, who have very strong personal style and creativity. At the Gillette Style Zone within The Yard, players are able to customize their avatars and bring something unique to their game. We are very excited to merge both worlds and encourage our consumers to explore their personal style during the game and in real life.”
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This year is a pivotal one for Madden. After players complained of bugs once again in Madden 21, calls for the NFL to drop EA spread across social media. As it stands, Madden 21 has a user score of 0.2/10 on Metacritic. Now clearly that’s been done to make a point, but the critic score of 63/100 isn’t much better from the professionals.
For the game to truly take off as an esport, the game needs to work correctly. For Gillette, a company that has a huge presence in gaming and the NFL, Madden sits nicely at that cross section – but the upcoming esports season is already on a bumpy road.