April 16th German BMW has signed a partnership agreement with five eSports clubs at once. Such a large-scale cooperation for e-sports is a landmark event, despite the fact that this is not the first deal with an automobile company – Audi, Toyota, Mercedes, KIA, Subaru and Hyundai came to the industry earlier. Cybersport.ru recalled all the key cases of the integration of automotive brands in e-sports and figured out how this industry attracts auto concerns.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Hyundai – which cars did esports get
Even before major brands began to look closely at e-sports, cars featured in competitions in various disciplines as a prize. Just not always it was part of partnership agreements with brands: sometimes a particular car was chosen based on other factors. One of the first such cases was the Quake tournament in 1997. Co-founder of id Software and game developer of Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake series, John Carmack presented his Ferrari 328 GTS championship winner Dennis Fong. But soon he sold the car, as the maintenance of a sports car cost him at $ 10 thousand per year.
In 2001, Jonathan Fatal1ty Wendel received $ 40,000 and a Ford Focus for winning the CPL World Championship in Alien vs Predator 2.
In 2016, Zhang lovelychook Bohan became the champion of the Hearthstone tournament – CN vs EU Championship. For the victory, the Chinese player received $ 22 thousand and Ferrari California worth more than $ 150 thousand
Automobiles for e-sportsmen were handed not only by tournament organizers. After the victory of the team at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 in CS: GO, co-founder and former head of Virtus.pro Anton Sneg Cherepennikov presented the new Mercedes to team captain Viktor TaZ Voitas. It was a token of gratitude to the player who helped to assemble the roster and remained faithful to the club for three years.
At the Central Asian League tournaments in World of Tanks, Hyundai cars were played several times – in addition to part of the prize pool, the winners received Hyundai Accent and Hyundai Tucson.
In 2016, the Hyundai car became the main prize of the eSports WRC Championship in WRC 5 racing simulator. The company then also became a partner of the competition. According to Scott No, head of Hyundai’s international marketing department, the automaker wanted to expand cooperation with the world of motorsport through the video game industry and e-sports. The winner of the championship received a hatchback Hyundai i20.
Virtus.pro players became leaders in the list of eSportsmen who won cars more often than others. Three participants of the Dota 2 roster received Mercedes at ESL tournaments at once.
In e-sports, not only players could win Mercedes, but also fans. In 2019, the car concern together with ESforce holding held a competition Most Valuable Fan. Esports fans needed to record a five-minute video in which they needed to talk about their fan addictions. The main prize – a Mercedes-Benz A-class – was received by a fan from Irkutsk, Renat Chernigovsky.
Automotive brands on esports chest
With the development of e-sports, a more substantive interest of automobile brands in this industry has arisen. Many companies began to work directly with clubs and tournament operators.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics notesthat the “under 25” age group has been increasingly interested in personal transport since 2012, but is still less likely to buy cars. The main buyers are people aged 45 to 54 years. According to experts, the interest of automotive brands in e-sports is connected with the desire to reach the audience of millennials and zoomers.
For example, in 2017 Audi became the sponsor of the Astralis CS: GO team – the car concern logo appeared on players’ jersey. At the time of ELEAGUE Major, in the same year, the company provided Astralis with branded Audi Q7 cars. The carmaker also collaborates with the European team Origen on the League of Legends, which is part of the Astralis Group. In addition, Audi in 2019 became the title sponsor of the e-sports program Marvelous Esports from the Chinese streaming platform Panda TV.
Toyota is also actively exploring ways to integrate into eSports. The company from the very first season became the sponsor of the Overwatch League. Automobile concern automobile ads constantly appear on league broadcasts; Overwatch League commentators Christopher MonteCristo Michaels, Eric DoA Lonquist and others starred in Toyota commercials. In 2018, the company organized its own CS: GO championship – TOYOTA Master Bangkok.
In 2019, Toyota became a partner of the BLAST Pro Series Moscow CS: GO tournament, and also announced a partnership with Winstrike’s Dota 2 squad. Together with e-sportsmen, the company held the Nafarmi on RAV4 promotion. The Toyota logo was in the form of a roster, and the players themselves starred in commercials.
In 2019, Nissan became a partner of FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming. The company logo appeared on the players’ jersey, and the e-sportsmen themselves received branded cars to create advertising content. According to the media director Nissan Robert Cross, eSports is a great opportunity for all companies to get in touch with millennials and Generation Z.
At the beginning of 2019, another major automotive brand is KIA Motors – entered into a partnership agreement with the LEC League of Legends Championship. Since then, the logo is located at the top of the tournament broadcast interface.
KIA Motors Vice President and Marketing Director Arthur Martins, along with colleagues from other automotive companies, notedthat with the help of eSports, the brand wants to directly appeal to the younger generation. The league even released a commercial in which commentator Trevor Quickshot Henry tested one of the company’s cars.
A year later, KIA Motors expanded its presence in League of Legends through a partnership with Rogue. Riot’s MOBA also caught the eye of Chevrolet – the brand sponsored Invictus Gaming. The composition of the club on League of Legends starred in the advertising of this brand of cars.
Honda has also shown interest in League of Legends. In early 2019, the automaker announced a partnership with Team Liquid. The Honda logo appeared on the players’ jersey, and the LoL roster received a branded minivan, where e-sportsmen came to the matches of the LCS season. Six months later, the company expanded its presence in Riot’s MOBA by entering into a partnership agreement with the League of Legends Championship Series and LCS Scouting Grounds.
Despite the popularity of LoL, Roman Ryazanov believes that car brands can successfully enter e-sports through other disciplines or even through regular video games.
The most widely integrated in eSports was Mercedes. In 2016, the brand became a partner of the tournament operator ESL, and in 2019, the Daimler concern, which manufactures Mercedes-Benz cars, bought SK Gaming club from ESforce. At present Mercedes is one of the title sponsors of the German organization.
As part of the Impreza 2018 car ad campaign, Subaru organized a CS: GO tournament. Subaru Marketing Manager Eric Park bluntly statedthat the goal of the championship is to introduce the millennials to the brand. In 2023, the company also became the title sponsor of a series of iRacing tournaments, which replaced racing competitions that were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Partnership of automobile brands and e-sports clubs does not always mean cooperation with all organizations. Some companies prefer to pay attention to those disciplines that are most popular in the regions they are interested in, or, as in the case of Renault, disciplines closely related to cars.
Renault became a partner of Team Vitality and together with the club created Rocket League team. The integration of the brand did not end with the logo placed on the jersey, – the team received the brand name Renault Vitality. The partnership also involved sharing experiences. – e-sportsmen got the opportunity to communicate with professional pilots Renault, and other members of the club could hold bootcamps at the training bases of the company. Groupe Renault Vice President Bastien Schupp said “the company has sought understand and master the e-sports environment, and this is only possible thanks to close cooperation. ”
Representatives of all automotive brands when integrating with e-sports say one thing – the desire to establish contact with millennials and a younger audience. In 2023, this may become an even more relevant area for marketing. According to the portal Brandwatch, according to the results of 2019, all the giants of the automotive industry lost to Tesla in popularity on social networks – on the main platform of millennials and zoomers. And if Elon Musk has already found a common language with a young audience thanks to jokes about games, animes and memes, then major brands such as BMW still have to do this. ESports is the best tool for this.
Dive into eSports through racing
Most of the cases of integrating automotive brands into e-sports are associated with traditional disciplines: CS: GO, League of Legends, Dota 2. However, there is also a closer field for automakers – virtual racing. This industry began to develop rapidly thanks to the game Gran Turismo, which has become a promo platform for many brands. A number of major championships were held, in the organization of which they actively participated Nissan: for example, tournament winners got the opportunity to try themselves as real racers with the support of the company.
In 2017, eSports was also noticed in Formula 1. The “queen of auto racing” has undergone radical shifts in leadership. Formula One Group Executive Director Chase Carey, who replaced Bernie Ecclestone, decided to attract a young audience to the competition. In addition to expanding media content formats and increasing activity on social networks, he applied other methods, for example, created a virtual league based on F1. At first, all the teams from the “real Formula” joined her, except for Ferrari. But two years later the Italian company resigned to change and even opened her eSports Racing Academy.
Now Ferrari is actively developing an e-sports direction – there is a separate section on the company’s website dedicated to virtual racing. Records of such races are also popular on the official Formula 1 channel – Some videos gain about 3 million views, which is comparable to the highlight statistics of real races.