With large name events such as the All-Star Championships held in Shanghai, China drawing over 18 Million Viewers and announcements that the League of Legends World Championship will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the same venue that has housed the NBA Finals and NHL Finals, professionally sanctioned video game competitions, also called eSports have arrived. Additionally, following the likes of American Express, who recently launched a Riot Games League of Legends Debit Card, Nissan has launched it's own foray into the world of eSports by partnering with Team Curse League of Legends players in what is being called the "Your Door to More" social video contest.
The contest, in which gamers are encouraged to submit short videos for a chance to win a $1,000 USD Amazon Gift Card, can also find their video as part of a Nissan commercial, creating real world momentum behind the already sizeable social media presence of Team Curse and the Nissan brand. Donovan Duncan, Vice President of Marketing at Curse, Inc., indicated that Curse hosts over a billion page views per month, with over 40 million unique users worldwide.
"We are reaching on average 10 million viewers on streams each month," said Duncan. "We also reach about 600,000 people through various social media channels. We'll clear over $20 million in revenue this year."
With such high unique visitor counts, pageview numbers, and revenue approximations, it was only a matter of time before Curse and the eSports communtiy attracted corporate attention. Baker Lambert, Senior Strategist at NIssan's advertising agency Ciat/Day, stated that his passion as an eSports fan drove him to pursue the deal.
“We chose to connect with e-sports because the yourdoortomore.com campaign lives 100% online, and since eSports isn't broadcast on TV or any other medium (yet), eSports fans are 100% online,” said Lambert. “The demographic fits very closely with the demographic we were trying to reach with this campaign, and partnering with eSports also provided us a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of cost per impression than most other mediums. So, when we stepped back and looked at it -- it was finding the right audience in the right place at the right time -- and it made perfect sense to be a part of that.”
While eSports has grown by leaps and bounds from its early days, deals such as this go a long way in legitimizing the sport and business. With millions of viewers, potential untapped revenue of the sport is massive, and involvement by companies like Nissan only show that this potential has caught the eye of many organizers and sponsors.
“As more and more of these companies start to get involved, eSports will become as mainstream and sought-after as the NFL in terms of organizations that companies want to be associated with,” said Duncan. “Our players have a lot of fans, and unlike other professional sports teams our players have a lot of online interaction with their fans through livestreaming. Our audience is very engaged, so partnering with our team opens up the opportunity for advertisers to interact with the user on a very personal level through our athletes.”
The campaign, which runs through August 19th, has been an instant success, with massive participation from the community and eSports. Part of this success is due to the teams and players themselves; the charisma and talent of the eSports professionals, most notably the partnered Team Curse League of Legends, has won over the viewers, and it is these masses of viewers that ultimately won over Chiat/Day.
“There are certainly other eSports teams out there grabbing a lot of views, but they aren’t necessarily portraying the kind of image you would want to align a brand with. After talking with team captain, Brandon ‘Saintvicious’ DiMarco, I was impressed with his professionalism, commitment, and business savvy and I knew that this was a team that had the organization, professionalism, and talent needed for a viable partnership.”
"By utilizing influential celebrities in the gaming world, Nissan is realizing the power that streaming and eSports can have on fan interactions with their brands,” said Nathan Lindberg Vice President of Sales at Curse. “We're excited to be the first eSports organization to introduce this to an automobile company in North America.”
The partnership of Nissan and Team Curse only provides increased legitimacy to the eSports community, and as the community grows, so will the potential for gamers to compete competatively as a career, continuing an international trend seen in countries such as Japan and Korea. Congratulations, Team Curse!