Five powerhouse esports organizations ink a deal with BMW that speaks volumes about branding and market reach


In a strong statement on the value of esports as a marketing tool, Germany’s BMW has decided to align itself with five global gaming giants: Cloud9 (U.S.), Fnatic (U.K.), FunPlus Phoenix (China), G2 Esports (Germany), and T1 (South Korea).

The reason for the partnership, whose campaign slogans will be “United in Rivalry” and “United at Home”? There are nearly half-a-billion fans tuning in weekly to watch video-game competitions in League of Legends, FIFA, and Dota 2.

Demographically, many are millennials and younger, and more likely to discover a brand like BMW on Twitch or YouTube than on television or in magazines. Plant the seed early, and you’ve got a market that will know the name BMW when it’s car shopping later on in life.

BMW twigged into the reach of esports early on, signing on as a partner for the Paris-hosted European League of Legends Finals back in 2017.

Straddling different platforms

The deal will straddle different platforms—everything from branding via jersey sponsorships to integration on social media. BMW will throw its marketing clout behind future top esports tournaments around the world.

BMW will also provide team-branded vehicles for the various teams operating under the umbrella of the various organiations, providing invaluable exposure at major tournaments where the viewership can top 100 million fans.

In announcing the deal in a release, BMW senior vice president of consumer and brand Jens Thiemer said: “Our esports involvement is an important milestone providing, for the first time, new intersectionality with a dynamic and fast-growing community. We consider esports a promising, growing addition to our marketing activities.”

He added: “Our long-term goal is to grow our team portfolio into true household names within the general sports and entertainment industry.”

To explain the idea behind United in Rivalry and United at Home, BMW included the following:

The teams’ competitive spirit and their historic rivalries have always been part of the esports scene’s lore. At the same time, the teams share a boundless passion for gaming and related activities. This is what “United in Rivalry” stands for, even more so in these present times of uncertainty and global challenges. As part of the partnership with BMW and in line with esports’ culture, the teams will challenge and try to outdo each other prior to tournaments, using the #unitedinrivalry hashtag on channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WeChat and various streaming platforms across the world. These mutual wind-ups are meant to increase each team’s motivation, but above all, they also serve to entertain the fans. It goes without saying that the teams’ interactions always stay within the parameters of esports etiquette, reflect the respect they have for each other, and of course will take place at home. Therefore, they will use the #unitedathome hashtag in combination with #unitedinrivalry.

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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