- Regional grocery chain Giant Food has partnered with Proctor & Gamble’s Old Spice, Gillette and Tide brands, Nestlé’s Outsiders Pizza brand, and Chobani to support the inaugural season of the esports NBA 2K League team Wizards District Gaming.
- The collaboration includes interactive live streams and live games on Twitch, where viewers can look for partner brands on the basketball court, according to a press release. John MacDonald, VP of marketing at Giant Food, an Ahold Delhaize banner, said the company is committed to supporting innovative partnerships like this.
- Wizards District Gaming is one of 17 teams participating in the first season of the NBA 2K League, which is a joint venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive. The professional esports league features the best NBA 2K players in the world, the release said. The schedule includes regular season games and tournaments, as well as playoffs beginning in mid-August.
The current value of the professional video gaming market is approximately $900 million and growing, according to Business Insider. This valuation is enough to generate commitments from major brands like Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Mountain Dew. The new Wizards District Gaming team has already secured a sponsorship commitment from Bud Light for its inaugural tournament, so Giant Food, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble and Chobani are in good company with the new team. This partnership is also a natural extension for Giant Food, which has partnered with Monumental Sports and Entertainment — owner of Wizards District Gaming — for years.
As the team grows its fan base in the quickly growing, competitive video gaming category, Giant Food’s logo will be splashed on signage throughout the court, on players’ accounts and throughout the practice facility. Giant Food will also retain exclusive ownership of streamed practices and games throughout the season for the die-hards who can’t make it to the venue.
For these marketers, getting in on the ground floor and gaining these fans’ trust and exposure early on isn’t a bad idea. Nielsen recently added a new division to measure esports ratings, which is expected to be a catalyst for even more media buying, according to The Motley Fool. Such a strategy also makes plenty of sense for brands that align with the gaming demographic — mostly male millennials — such as Old Spice and Gillette.
Esports viewers are captive and engaged. According to a recent report by IHS Market, the amount of time spent watching competitive video games totaled more than 6 billion hours in 2016, up 19% from 2015. These attributes are highly desirable for marketers, and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick even predicts that “over time, esports initiatives could rival traditional sports for audience interest, advertiser interest, sponsors, ticket sales and merchandise sales, both virtual and physical.”
In other words, Giant Food and its partners are betting on quick and effective exposure from the partnership. The benefits not only include a loyal audience, but an audience that is digitally savvy — most esports fans don’t watch much TV and are therefore hard to reach via traditional commercials. It's also smart for a grocery store to get onboard with sponsorship. Fans who want to purchase the food and essentials that are advertised need to get them somewhere.
According to Newzoo, the number of esports enthusiasts is expected to grow by another 50% by 2020, totaling 286 million. Consumer spending on tickets and merchandise will also grow as a consequence. For brands jumping into this space, the opportunity to get in front of younger, captive audiences has perhaps never been greater.