There is a broken relationship between gamers, esports fans and brands. Influencer Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys and Stuart Saw have launched a talent management and brand consulting firm to address this and offer tips on how to break the disconnect.
Gaming influencers and brands are constantly in the press for the wrong reasons – the truly great partnerships are rare. Brands are coming to realize the value in investing in the gaming industry and its audience. There is a thriving community of gamers who enjoy watching their favorite influencers playing on various platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. But it is not without its risks.
Even top brands can fall flat. Coca-Cola unveiled ‘Real Magic,’ a new global platform aimed to attract gen Z and gamers to the soft drink, but some within the gaming community felt the spot to be ‘inauthentic,’ ‘tone deaf’ or worse.
In November 2020, duo Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys and Stuart Saw began talking about the problems that were key to Anys as an influencer. Feeling overwhelmed with her business and the need to restructure her team, she began interviewing for additional help. She met Saw, who is now chief executive officer of RTS.
“These conversations began to evolve into hypotheticals about how we would approach these issues to make our industry a better space,” explains Anys. “We were so passionate about creating a solution for our peers and this ultimately inspired us to create RTS.”
Saw has been in gaming, esports and streaming since 2004 – an early adopter.
“As much as we were able to grow and solve several problems, those are still ever more. In chatting with Pokimane, we could see history repeating itself in the things that needed to be fixed.”
The main goal of RTS is to bring together talent management, brand consulting and gaming expertise, which will help creators, brands, events and publishers make a long-term impact across the industry. Currently, the roster includes Pokimane on the talent management side, along with Facebook, Epic Games/Fortnite World Cup and the Sony Evolution Championship Series (Evo).
Anys says: “We’re ready to address the specific needs creators like me would need to enable them to run a stable and a long-term business.”
Gaming influencers are a growing medium for brands to get their message out to new audiences. The strength that comes from working with these individuals is that they are clued in on their audience, know how to bring authenticity to the table and are aware of when and how is the right way to partner up.
“There does seem to be that definite disconnect with the industry, and how to effectively use them,” explains Saw.
“When brands look at their social strategy, traditionally they have their own Twitter page, Instagram page and there are loads of examples of great brands [that] have done great jobs on those platforms.
“They then want to move on Twitch because that’s a logical extension of the social strategy. However, once you move into such a long-form content platform, it’s an entirely different skillset, as are the expectations from the audience. So every brand doesn’t need a Twitch page in the same way they all have a Twitter page. Sometimes what works on other social platforms does not work on gaming social platforms.”
Over the years, mixed reviews on using influencers has been a pertinent issue. Brands can be reluctant from dipping into this gray area.
“There’s a lot of diligence that goes into it,” explains Saw. “The area in which we hit the most pushback is: ‘is this the right person?’ That’s important. And this comes from both sides. Creators are often asking those same questions. Is this the right brand? And if both parties are asking those questions, then we’re on to something. It’s when they don’t do that diligence that you run into trouble.”
There are many ways in which brands can enter the gaming market, be it creative, esports or at a game developer level.
However, it depends on the message and what you’re trying to get across that will lead you to the right avenue. One brand RTS is currently working with is wanting to enter the esports market.
“What we do is walk them though what’s been done,” Saw explains. “Good case studies, bad case studies and the key lessons that were missing from that. Then speak to gamers in their own voice. That’s what’s missing. Successful campaigns integrate creators and [don’t] just use them as lip service.”
And spend on the use of gaming influencers and creators will continue to rise as it grows year in, year out. Brand interest is flaring up.
“There’s always that element of creating sustainability in this space and it required revenue streams such as brand dollars to come in, and that’s happening,” Saw enthuses.
“Measuring by the sheer volume of inbound conversations and deals that you can see across the industry that are completed and converting, it’s rising exponentially and in ever-growing categories.”