How to integrate a brand into esports: the case of WePlay Esports and Monster Energy

The days of brands engaging with their audiences through TV commercials or product placement in movies are over. Now, companies can tell the world about themselves in a different, creative way by collaborating with different industries. And if soccer or car races have long since become popular advertising platforms, esports has so far remained a blind spot for many.

The esports industry is growing fast. According to analytics provider NewZoo, the global esports audience will reach 577 million by 2024. It is predominantly made of men aged 18 to 35 with medium and high incomes. These people are open to innovation, know all about the latest tech gadgets, and are actively seeking new experiences. That’s why brands should take notice of esports as a new platform for communicating with potential customers. Representatives of esports organizations and tournament operators will tell you how best to integrate into this area.

Let’s consider one such case of interaction using the example of energy drink brand Monster Energy and WePlay Esports. Monster Energy has been using esports as an advertising platform for 10 years, but integration with WePlay Esports is the brand’s first step in the Ukrainian market. The Russian-language broadcast of the BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021 group stage was chosen for the interaction.

WePlay Esports’ Russian-language broadcast studio of BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021. Photo: WePlay Holding

BLAST Premier is a global tournament series in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), the 2021 Fall Season of which took place from September 16 till November 28, 2021. The total prize pool of the season was $1,737,000. The Russian-language broadcast of the event was organized by WePlay Esports, the flagship company of the WePlay Holding esports corporate group.

Esports offers a ton of creative ways to interact with your audience, among other things. For instance, as part of the Monster Energy case, a mechanism was developed that encouraged viewers to support teams. Here, we are talking about the “comeback” button. A comeback, or a turning point in the game, is what loyal fans want when a team begins to flounder. By pressing the “comeback” button, the audience would share their energy with the favorite team. When the viewer support dial was full, the hosts would make an announcement to that respect. Thus, the players would know of their fans’ support without ever seeing them.

The “comeback” button at the Russian-language broadcast of the BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021 group stage, produced by WePlay Esports. Photo: WePlay Holding

One should also keep in mind that advertising of any product should look native. There are brands for which integrations with esports are natural, for example, gaming equipment manufacturers, and brands for which the choice of esports as an advertising platform seems less obvious. Monster Energy is a representative of the latter. While energy drinks are not a necessity for gamers as a computer or headphones would be, they are an integral part of esports competitions and a companion of gamers’ sleepless nights. Monster Energy drinks give an energy boost to gamers, fans, and talent (esports commentators and analysts) alike. As WePlay Esports talents Oleksii “уХо” Maletskyi and Yuriy “Strike” Tereshchenko discussed the game, every now and then, they would mention the key messages of the brand. Thus, the viewers’ attention was drawn to Monster Energy, but at the same time, they weren’t distracted from the game itself.

WePlay Esports Talents Oleksii “yXo” Maletskyi and Yuriy “Strike” Tereshchenko at the Russian-language broadcast of the BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021. Photo: WePlay Holding

The most classic integration format esports can offer a brand is product placement. In the case of Monster Energy, online viewers could see energy drink cans placed around the studio throughout the broadcast. The fridge, which featured the bright green Monster Energy logo, drew particular attention.

Monster Energy at the Russian-language broadcast of the BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021 group stage from WePlay Esports. Photo: WePlay Holding

When choosing a language for communicating with the esports audience, it’s important to remember that the community itself consists of dynamic people who crave their fix of creativity. When they are interested in a tournament, they can watch it non-stop and share their excitement in chats. They have their own fan clubs, celebrities, and influencers. For this audience, video games are not mere entertainment — they are a lifestyle.

In view of this background, a brand’s task when entering the esports niche is to surprise the viewer, make its impressions blend in seamlessly, and create high-quality, vibrant content. You can create an SFM video, use AR technology, or come up with engaging activities within the broadcast. Under this scenario, a loyal audience and great results are guaranteed.