Virtual need for speed: why Porsche has invested in esports during a pandemic
Porsche recently hosted its first regional esports tournament, the Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup, reaching over 24.7 million people in the region. Janine Dietzel, the experiential marketing manager at Porsche Asia Pacific, takes The Drum inside the carmaker’s esports strategy.
The German carmaker has been synonymous with motorsports throughout the years, but Dietzel says the brand has also come to realise that nowadays, for many others, the thrill of driving is also experienced in the digital world of esports.
This push into esports also came at an opportune time for Porsche. For a time, esports became the only ‘competitive sport’ going, providing the ideal window to launch the inaugural Porsche’s Forza Cup.
The Grand Finals was streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch across 14 countries. Porsche tapped host Allan Wu and commentators Claire Jedrek and Yuey Tan to provide expert analysis; 56,429 viewers tuned in across the region, the brand claims.
“The spotlight on esports and sim racing becomes stronger when iconic racing events such as 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula E and our very own Porsche Carrera Cup became virtual because of the pandemic,” explains Dietzel. “Being able to livestream these virtual races on platforms like Twitch allowed us to reach a new generation of motorsport fans and share our passion for the racetracks with a broader audience.”
“With more professional drivers competing in esports, there has been a growing interest in sim racing. Secondly, the gaming community in our region has been on the rise – it was calculated that the revenue from the gaming market in Asia Pacific alone amounted to $72.2bn in 2019, according to Statista.”
She continues: “This growth will not be stopping anytime soon, as the South East Asia gaming market is expected to register a CAGR of 8.5% over the forecast period of 2020 to 2025, according to Mordor Intelligence.”
In addition, collaborating with the right partners and investments has helped to further establish Porsche’s esports tournaments, explains Dietzel. For example, the brand signed on Hugo Boss as the official sponsor of the Forza Cup.
The German luxury fashion house has also been the official outfitter for the Porsche motorsport team and the official apparel partner since the carmaker joined Formula E.
“Esports played a major role in driving our growth this year as we were able to expand our reach by engaging with new target groups. It offered a great opportunity for us to connect authentically with a new generation of motoring fans,” she says.
“Even as we return back to the physical race tracks like it was pre-pandemic days, we would still continue scaling up our efforts in esports and engage with the community with this platform.”
After the pandemic, Porsche wants to continue to fuel the passion of its fans and deepen the bonds with its customers with innovative brand experiences. It is doing this by looking into the future of urban retail in the region with its newly designed Porsche Centres.
For example, the newly opened Porsche Centre Ara Damansara is centred around the Porsche community in Malaysia. More than being the new flagship Porsche Centre, Dietzel says the centre is also a meeting point for all racing fans.
“There will be dedicated Motorsports Zone, showcasing both classic and modern Porsche race cars, racing simulators for visitors to take a spin on their desired racetrack circuit and livestreaming of races such as FIA Formula E, Le Mans, Porsche Carrera Cup and virtual racing,” she says.
When the time comes for people to able to travel again without restrictions, Porsche fans can also look forward to signing up for international Porsche Experiences; fulfilling their dreams of experiencing Porsche first-hand.
These Porsche Experiences include the Porsche Track Experience, a programme catered for drivers who want to take their skills to the next level by working through training levels and special onroad sessions. Drivers will pick up the basics of vehicle control and can apply for their own racing licence.
Participants will also receive professional training and a comprehensive full service mentoring programme in three different and sequential levels to become a Porsche race driver, as well as experience Porsche by going on journeys along specially designed routes throughout the world.