Esports gamers emerging as the new generation of brand ambassadors
As the brands look to tap into the eSports community in different parts of the world, they are likely to bring in a brand ambassador. Dota 2 is just one eSport with its collection of superstars who are yet to become brand ambassadors.
Esports has been a major area of investment in recent times. The ongoing pandemic has only served to cement the position of the eSports industry. The competition between top sportswear brands, Nike, Adidas, and Puma within the world of eSports is something that has been noticed since last year. If sportswear is not of interest to a person, brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Givenchy, and Gillette Venus have also made an entry. The situation is one where esports is being looked at as a new way to connect with the Gen Z crowd.
So far, the competition had been in the form of the companies sponsoring eSports teams or becoming sponsors for events, or making a deal with a game developer. With the recent signing of Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev as a brand ambassador for Nike, this situation may move onto the next step like it has with professional sports.
Looking back at the deals that have been signed by sportswear brands in eSports, Adidas designed a shoe for Team Vitality and signed deals with Lyon and Team Heretics.
Nike signed a four-year deal with the Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL) to provide the kits for all participating teams. Nike also signed deals with T1 Sports & Entertainment and SK Gaming.
Puma has an ongoing deal with Cloud9 for their teams across various eSports. Other than this, they also signed a deal with Gen.G eSports.
On the luxury side of things, Gucci designed a watch in collaboration with Fnatic, one of the top eSports organisations. Louis Vuitton had a partnership with League of Legends. Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Anna Sui help players with options on customising their in-game looks for Animal Crossing. Givenchy and Gillette Venus have chosen to cater to players in-game beauty needs.
The most likely outcome of this move by Nike is that Adidas and Puma, along with other interested brands will develop similar ideas. The proof of this fact is the statement by Matt Shaw, Senior Strategist, Esports and Innovation for Puma. “We’re a sports company but really we are a culture company. To be a culture company, we have to love the things our consumers love. One of the things at the top of the list of what our consumers love is gaming and esports as a corollary,” he said.
In the world of eSports, there are various factors that make players popular. While RHAMZES666 is considered an extremely skilled player in Dota 2, as of today, he is quite far from being one of the most successful.
Looking at just Dota 2 there are several other names that come to mind and good options to pick up for the brands that are yet to sign on an ambassador - Johan "N0tail" Sundstein, Sébastien "Ceb" Debs, Topias Miikka "Topson" Taavitsainen, Kuro "KuroKy" Salehi Takhasomi and Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi being some. These are the five richest professional players (based on prize money won) who are still active. Other than these players, there is also professional Dota 2 player Artour "Arteezy" Babaev, who is considered one of the most skilled players of all time. He is considered so skilled that his failure to win the game's most coveted tournament, The International (TI), has become a running joke in the community known are the ‘curse of Arteezy’.
The deal with Rhamzes666 and Nike is unlikely to be the last of its kind. As the brands look to tap into the eSports community in different parts of the world, they are likely to bring in a brand ambassador. Dota 2 is just one eSport with its collection of superstars who are yet to become brand ambassadors. Games such as Fortnite, PUBG, Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LoL) have their own dedicated fans that won’t be swayed by the presence of a Dota 2 player among the brand ambassadors. These are the reasons why this writer believes that this incident is only an indication of what is to be expected.
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