EE is trying to make gaming as ‘healthy and inclusive’ as possible
EE has extended its esports partnership with Excel Esports until 2025. It tells The Drum how it will build on the previous three years of collaboration.
Two esports stars model the Excel kits complete with EE branding
EE has decided to play again with Excel Esports, extending its partnership with the brand for another three years. The mobile operator will continue to sponsor Excel’s team kits, including teams around: Fifa, League of Legends and Valorant. The partnership also sees EE investing in grassroots esports and inclusivity campaigns designed to broaden the appeal of esports to the general public.
For EE, this sits as part of a wider campaign related to gaming more generally, sitting alongside a new range of products that bundle with Xbox, Nintendo and PlayStations, in addition to a nationwide roll-out of in-store gaming bays in over 175 EE retail stores.
EE’s marketing communications director Pete Jeavons explains that the partnership reaffirms the company’s commitment to gaming. At a time when mental well-being is becoming a much bigger priority for brands and advertisers, the need to appear authentic and embedded within the community is paramount.
He says: “We recently set out our ambition to be the UK’s number one network for gaming, so finding new and authentic ways to reach esports and gaming communities is extremely important to us. By partnering with Excel, we’re able to demonstrate our commitment and long-term vision to these communities and let them know about our expanding gaming product and service offering.”
Beyond the provision of technology, EE also recognizes that more is needed to make the medium brand-friendly, particularly around the areas of inclusivity. Jeavons believes that more work is needed to encourage healthy behaviors, both within the gaming communities and with brands that want to speak to them: “With all of our partnerships, we work hard to make sure it’s not simply a branding exercise; for us, success isn’t seeing our logo everywhere, it’s finding a role to play that benefits these communities.
“When we announced the renewal of this partnership, we committed to a set of ambitions that aim to make the gaming community as healthy and inclusive as possible and over the next three years, we will be rolling out a series of initiatives that sets out to achieve this.”
To that end, two of the announced endeavors the partnership will undertake focus on inclusivity through nurturing the next generation of women gamers to take part in competitive gaming, and by supporting gamers beyond the play occasion, making mental health support available to the gaming community.
Mark Carter, commercial director of Excel Esports hailed ”one of the longest partnerships in esports history” and added: ”Together, we understand the importance of creating ground-breaking initiatives and enabling opportunities to drive forward and support more inclusive gaming communities.”
To that end, EE will also continue to provide its connectivity tools to Excel’s teams. It is a marriage of form and function, with EE’s connectivity providing practical benefits to the gaming community through its mobile network, focusing on stability and packet loss. By focusing on the social aspects of gaming as well, however, the partnership is also in service of making gaming a friendlier place, both for the gamers and for the brands who want to speak to them.
Jeavons explains: “Gaming is a huge passion for our customers which means it’s something we’re massively invested in, and you’ll continue to see EE show up more and more in this space. Renewing our partnership with Excel couldn’t have come at a better time; we are only at the beginning of our gaming journey so it’s very much a case of watch this space at the moment.”
As more brands seek to speak to the gaming audience, there is an early mover advantage in doing it well. Mobile networks like EE, which can demonstrate their value to players in a tangible way, have a huge opportunity - provide they can demonstrate a true understanding of gaming culture.