The best esports advertising campaigns of 2021

Image credit: BMW

With 2022 just moments away, it is time to reveal ESI’s yearly summary of the most creative esports advertising campaigns.

At Esports Insider, we’ve chosen to celebrate the creativity of the industry by showcasing some of the most significant, captivating, and outstanding advertisements delivered throughout 2021, whether it be through long-running campaigns or one-off brand collaborations. 

Here, presented in no particular order, are what we consider to be some of the best and most creative esports advertising campaigns of 2021:

Erste Group x LEC: Esports Doomsday

League of Legends is known for its amusing advertising campaigns, therefore it’s no surprise to see the European League of Legends Championship (LEC) reach this list for the third consecutive year. 

This short film in collaboration with European financial services provider ERSTE Group features desperate gamers burning gaming chairs and smashing computers after a TV show host declares that esports is not a sport. Needless to say that the love for esports wins in the end. 

Under the hashtag #believeinyourself, the campaign aims to encourage esports players and fans to ‘keep ignoring the haters’ and to ‘believe in themselves as they always have’.

BMW: A year in rivalry

In 2020, the German automotive giant BMW announced a partnership with five prominent esports organisations, namely Cloud9, Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports and T1, as a part of its multi-year campaign titled #UnitedInRivalry. In accordance with the campaign’s message, this was considered a global approach to esports from BMW, as these organisations are based in North America, England, Germany, and China.

In the next step of the campaign, BMW made clear its true goal — to create a ‘brutal competition’ by forging an alliance between some of the best competing esports orgs. 

Having warned it would strike again, the car brand kept its promise and returned a few months later with a teaser for its Heroes of Rivalry manga series, which features players from the partnered teams facing adventures in a parallel fantasy environment. Utilising its marketing potential, the series also incorporates news about BMW’s future involvements in esports.

Ralph Lauren x G2 Esports: SO MAJESTIC

Picking G2 League of Legends star Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson as the face of its campaign with luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren was undeniably a great choice by G2. 

The announcement video reveals Ralph Lauren as the exclusive fashion outfitter for G2 Esports, marking the brand’s first foray into the esports industry. As a result of the partnership, the two brands also launched a series of ‘digital-first’ activations on platforms such as TikTok and Twitch. 

Additionally, the campaign overlapped with Ralph Lauren’s Wimbledon Campaign, which featured Rekkles alongside other ‘high profile’ traditional sports athletes, symbolising esports’ equal position amongst traditional sporting disciplines. 

ESL and Intel: 20 years of esports collaboration  

Without ESL, Intel, and the historic collaboration between the two entities, esports wouldn’t be the same as we know it today.  

To celebrate this two-decades-long formative partnership, Intel Gaming posted a goosebumps-inducing video featuring replays of some of the biggest and most moving moments in the history of esports. Filled with emotions and sentiment, this ad surely won’t leave any esports fan cold.

Nike x T1: Just a Gamer

It’s no secret that esports fans can be fairly toxic at times, and Korean esports organisation T1 particularly has its own share of experiences with that. 

In this video spot featuring former T1 streamer JisooGirl, T1 together with sports apparel giant Nike decided to point out the gender bias in gaming and promote a simple, but powerful message: ‘Don’t hate the player, just be better. We are all just Gamers.’

Rogue x Kia: Movement that inspires

After North American esports organisation Rogue announced it had renewed its partnership with car manufacturer Kia Motors, this neatly directed video came out to support Kia’s ‘Movement that inspires’ brand narrative.

In the video, former Rogue League of Legends player Steven ‘Hans sama’ Liv talks about his inspiration to pursue his goals, in drawing and in esports, and highlights the significance of ambitions, passion and the drive to improve. 

As a part of the campaign, Rogue and Kia produced several more spots featuring Rogue players, all of which focus on inspiration as the main driving force.

Fnatic x Jack Link’s: BEEEEFF MODE 

There is something really appealing about the full-hype state to gamers, as the theme can be found across all types of advertising in gaming and esports. 

As such, Jack Link’s, in collaboration with Fnatic, staked on the ‘beast mode’, or in this case the ‘BEEEEFF MODE’, being portrayed as the catalyst for any and all gaming accomplishments. Expectedly, the spot suggests that this full-focus state of gaming domination is reached by snacking on Jack Link’s beef jerky.

As a part of the campaign, fans were able to share their biggest #BeefMode moments for a chance to win Fnatic-themed gaming peripherals and to have their videos featured on Fnatic social media.

Williams Racing: Drive. No Matter What

Williams Racing’s captivating video, which presents the organisation’s philosophy — ‘Drive. No Matter What’ — shows a passionate driver on her path from playing racing games to driving the real thing. 

Accompanied with excellent music and eye-catching visuals, Williams Racing’s video really is a fine piece of advertisement which shows that racing as a career is feasible, and oftentimes starts as a hobby.