By Barry Janoff
September 12, 2016: Add General Mills to the growing list of non-endemic companies putting money, time, and marketing into eSports.
The food company said it has signed on to become the first presenting sponsor for Yahoo eSports Live, a new hour-long weekly show covering the burgeoning category.
The program, which begins this week on Yahoo eSports and Twitch, will see General Mills get custom-branded segments and video advertising during the live eSports broadcast, initially anchored by new creative for Reese’s Puffs Cereal.
As part of the campaign, Reese’s Puffs will also sponsor Yahoo’s coverage for the live stream of ESL One New York 2016, scheduled for Oct. 1-2.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
According to General Mills, the deal supports the “You Either Love Them or You’re Wrong” campaign for Reese’s Puffs, via Saatchi & Saatchi, NY, and targets "an important audience of millennials on Yahoo."
“As a leader in the emerging eSports space and an experienced player in live programming, Yahoo was the obvious choice for our new campaign for Reese’s Puffs,” Devin Kunysz, marketing manager, Reese's Puffs, General Mills, said in a statement.
“We’ve found a really unique way to connect with our audience around the new Yahoo eSports Live, so that we’re able to not only entertain and engage fans around our brand, but drive results for our business," said Kunysz.
Among the other companies aligned with eSports are Coca-Cola, Nissan, Intel, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bell, Red Bull, ESPN and Turner Sports.
Brands are anticipated to spend $128 million on eSports sponsorships and nearly $200 million on advertising this year, an increase of 49% over 2015, according to the latest Global eSports Market Report from eSports and video research, marketing and consulting firm NewZoo, San Francisco.
Those totals are expected to top $800 million by 2019, "the same year the total (eSports) marketing passes the $1 billion mark," according to NewZoo.
Last week, AEG, which owns, operates or oversees sports and entertainment venues, teams and platforms globally, and ESL, arguably the biggest and most influential eSports-specific organization in the world, signed a "strategic long-term global partnership" that would enable ESL to utilize AEG's global network of more than 120 clubs, theaters, arenas and stadiums for qualifying events, tournaments, and world championships.
On Sept. 4, the Call of Duty World League Championship presented by PlayStation 4 was the "most viewed eSports event in Call of Duty history," according to Activision, with the combined Call of Duty Championship matches surpassing more than 20 million views. That topped the previous record for Call of Duty eSports events by more than 40%, per Activision.
“We’ve found a unique way to connect with our audience so that we’re able to entertain and engage fans around our brand, and drive results for our business."
Yahoo eSports Live includes two 30 minute segments, Late Night League and Tilted, airing every Monday starting Sept. 12.
Late Night League will focus on recent news around the eSports world in the style of a late night talk show. Tilted is a roundtable discussion with a rotating cast of Yahoo eSports editorial and video personalities.
ESL One New York 2016, taking place in Brooklyn's Barclays Center, is being called "the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament ever in New York, including a $250,000 prize pool.
eSports Boom Continues With AEG, ESL, Activision
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