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Unique aspects of esports marketing

This is an excerpt from Esports Business Management With HKPropel Access by David P. Hedlund,Gil B. Fried & Ronald "Rick" Smith.

By David P. Hedlund, Anthony Palomba, Lisa Cosmas Hanson, Michael L. Naraine, and Henry Wear

From the beginning, sport marketers for traditional sports have debated with business marketers about whether anything unique existed in their marketing activities or whether sport marketing was simply an application of traditional marketing principles in sport settings. One area of difference is the existence of these two types of sport marketing:

  • Marketing of sport
  • Marketing through sport

Simply put, the marketing of sport consists of sport marketers who market aspects such as players, teams, and leagues. Marketing through sport includes marketing goods and services through communications and activities centered on and produced by the team and its partners.

In the video game industry, the marketing of esports and marketing through esports also both occur. In January 2020, Activision Blizzard’s new esports league for the game Call of Duty began with a three-day event held in Minneapolis. As noted earlier by Reuters (2019), “the event will feature all 12 professional Call of Duty League teams as well as fan and player experiences to celebrate the launch of the new city-based league, including the first Challengers Open where amateur players can compete as teams in an open bracket tournament format” (para. 2). During the two and a half months between the announcement introducing the new league and the inaugural event itself, Activision Blizzard marketed numerous aspects of the league, including the 12 teams, some of the most talented players, the new version of the game Modern Warfare, the 28-week schedule, and the amateur Challenger events (Takahashi 2019). Prior to and during the start of the Call of Duty League season, sponsors and partners also began to market their goods and services through the teams and events. For example, YouTube was announced as the exclusive streaming partner for the Call of Duty League (Grubb 2020). During the inaugural event streams, league partners and sponsors such as the U.S. Army and Air Force, MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL (energy drinks), ASTRO Gaming (headsets), SCUF Gaming (controllers), Sony PlayStation (consoles), in addition to team sponsors such as Jack in the Box (restaurant), Monster (energy drinks), Corsair (hardware and peripherals), Turtle Beach (headsets), and GameStop (games and accessories), all marketed their goods and services through activities such as on-screen graphics, commercials, branding on uniforms and clothing, and in-game use (YouTube 2020). All of these activities used the Call of Duty League and YouTube to broadcast and communicate marketing information, messages, and branding to consumers and spectators.

Another area where the marketing of traditional sports and esports have diverged from those used in business is the strategies and tactics used by marketers. The six most important and frequently used esports marketing strategies and tactics are identified as follows:

  1. Use digital marketing.
  2. Consider diverse types of gamers, and avoid stereotypes.
  3. Use influencers.
  4. Be authentic.
  5. Provide opportunities for experiential marketing.
  6. Engage and activate through activities and events.
More Excerpts From Esports Business Management With HKPropel Access