By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

July 21, 2022 | 4 min read

With more non-endemic brands entering the esports space, it’s no surprise that it’s projected to be worth over $1.5bn by 2023.

As part of The Drum’s Sports Marketing Deep Dive, we round up some of the best examples of brands smashing it out of the esports arena by creating out-of-this-world ads.

Gucci and Fnatic

In 2020, luxury brand Gucci and professional esports organization Fnatic launched a new watch inspired by Fnatic’s League of Legends team. The watch was showcased in a chilling ad alongside the five League of Legends players: Martin Larsson (aka Rekkles), Zdravets Galabov (aka Hylissang), Tim Lipovšek (aka Nemesis), Gabriël Rau (aka Bwipo) and Oskar Boderek (aka Selfmade).

Capturing the exhilaration of esports and team spirit, the ad shows the team in action in front of a live audience.

Although having worked together previously, this was the first time brand and league had collaborated on a product. Costing more than $1,600 a watch, the Fnatic branded product featured exclusively on Gucci’s website and was highly successful for the Italian brand’s first venture into the esports industry.

Nike and League of Legends

Nike ventured into the world of esports in 2020 with Chinese professional League of Legends player Uzi.

Camp Next Level was designed to sharpen minds, build stronger bodies and make better gamers.

From Wieden+Kennedy, the ad takes its viewers to this special gamer training camp where Uzi and his guru NXT challenge gamers with a variety of crazy workouts in an extensive FX and CGI sequence reminiscent of Battle Royale.

The video was launched prior to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, which was hosted in Shanghai.

Ralph Lauren and G2 Sports

Last year, another luxury brand entered the esports leagues when Ralph Lauren teamed up with G2 League of Legends star Rekkles as the exclusive fashion outfitter for G2 Esports.

The ad features the Swedish player switching out his competition gear for Ralph Lauren’s blazer and slim-fit jeans while taking to horseback. The campaign also overlapped the Italian brand’s Wimbledon marketing, with Rekkles appearing alongside other sports athletes to share their thoughts on sportsmanship at the 2021 event.

Bumble and Gen G

Professional esports organization Gen G and dating app Bumble partnered up to rebrand as Gen G Empowered by Bumble (aka Team Bumble). For a long time, gaming communities have underserved women and been a toxic environment for them. The pair wanted to develop a community around its female gamers, influencers and fans.

To tap into this market, Bumble and Gen G launched the partnership through Bumble BFF, its friendship finder app. And so Team Bumble was born, Gen.G's first-ever all-women esports team.

The ad features pro esports players Madison ’Maddiesuun’ Man, Tina ’Tinaraes’ Perez, Carlee Gress and Hannah Reyes speaking out about the negative side of being female gamers, how the industry is changing for the better and the positive impact this will have for the esports and gaming communities.

Erste Group and European League of Legends Championship

For a long time, gaming was seen as child’s play – something that wasn’t worth anyone’s time beyond adolescence. And by extension, esports had similar complaints. It wasn’t a ’real sport’.

To encourage esports gamers and followers to ignore the haters, the European League of Legends Championship and finance providers Erste Group released an amusing ad that sees the gaming community ’debate’ whether esports is a sport or not.

After being told by a TV presenter that esports isn’t a real sport, gamers begin to smash their PCs, burn equipment and bury their hopes. But it’s eventually seen as a dream sequence with gamers told to ’#believeinyourself’.

Not only does a large finance group backing esports help the industry monetarily, but shows the real value that brands can achieve in teaming up with the esports community.

Check out The Drum’s latest Deep Dive, The New Sports Marketing Playbook, and learn the tactics employed by the world’s biggest sports organizations and their star athletes to stay top of their game.

Wieden+Kennedy Esports Brand Strategy

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