BMW Goes Global With Esports, Signs Five Major Esports Teams

BMW Goes Global With Esports, Signs Five Major Esports Teams

BMW is revving up its esports presence today, as the German automaker announced that it has signed global partnerships with five top esports organizations. In a major expansion of its footprint in the space, BMW has entered into agreements with Cloud9, Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports, and T1 Entertainment & Sports – spanning more than five countries and three continents. The main provisions of the partnership include providing vehicles with which to travel to and from events that have painted on team logos with colorful graphics, heavy social media engagement through hashtags, the placement of the BMW’s logo on jerseys, and collaborative content creation.

Financial details and the length of the partnerships were not disclosed.

The partnership spans the entire list of teams each organization fields with the exception of games in the shooter genre. According to T1 Entertainment & Sports CEO Joe Marsh, “…The deal is for our non-shooters; so Dota 2, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros. and the flagship being the League of Legends team.” BMW confirmed to The Esports Observer that this stipulation applies to each of the five organizations.

What makes this partnership particularly unique is the collaboration between organizations that routinely compete against one another across multiple games. BMW will leverage these rivalries through collaborative social media engagement under the hashtags #UnitedinRivalry and #UnitedatHome. Teams will use the hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WeChat, and various streaming platforms to entertain and increase engagement levels with fans by engaging in banter, posting memes, and other methods of pushing their competitive narratives.

G2 Esports CEO Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez told The Esports Observer, “BMW is without a doubt a top partner for us. Closing a deal like this even a year ago would have been unheard of. This is one of the first times you have esports teams across the world coming together under one partnership, so we are creating fun and entertaining content around our rivalries.” 

Marsh also noted that T1 would be creating content with BMW “centered around cars.”

While BMW has been in the esports sponsorship space since 2017, having been the official partner of the European League of Legends Championship Series (now referred to as League of Legends European Championship) finals that year and the title sponsor of the BMW SIM LIVE sim racing event in 2019, this new initiative is a clear indicator, the company believes, of where digital competition is headed.

“We primarily have a global approach to esports and therefore, we choose to work with these key organizations/teams. On the other hand, we want to work on a regional level as well and this is mainly why these teams are based in our main markets,” BMW Brand and Marketing Spokesperson Christophe Koenig told The Esports Observer. “Last but not least, we do share some common values with the teams when it comes to entertainment and sport, which did play a very important role in the final decisions.”

Fnatic’s Chief Operating Officer Glen Calvert sees the partnership with BMW as a value-for-value agreement.

Credit: BMW

“At Fnatic, we want to work with the most forward-thinking brands, it is vital that we approach our strategic partnerships to ensure not only do they add value to all parties but most importantly are able to tell an authentic story for our fans,” Calvert told The Esports Observer. “BMW is the perfect partner, as it is through our shared core values of driving innovation and maximizing performance through cutting-edge technology that will be at the heart of all the activity we do together.”

Cloud9 was the first of the five teams to work with BMW as the North American organization signed a deal with the automaker last year. That deal and what it brought to the table for Cloud9 helped give BMW legitimacy in the space as an esports sponsor.

“The C9 and BMW partnership was founded on the shared value of peak performance, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence,” said Jack Etienne, CEO and co-founder of Cloud9. “We’re focused on continuing to push the boundaries and innovate, and we’re excited to work alongside several top esports organizations to accomplish that with BMW Global.” 

Marsh explained that the Cloud9 deal was the catalyst for this new global initiative for BMW. “They jumped into esports with Cloud9, which is more of a North American deal, and they saw the global trend, especially with Worlds in Germany last year, and saw the hyper-connectivity, power, and fandom of sports. 

Credit: T1 Entertainment & Sports

“Our agency Lagardère was working with BMW closely, and after an event we were at last year in Madrid, we went to BMW’s headquarters in Germany to meet with their global team. We started talking about a deal with T1, met with their team in Korea – they’re working on a global scale, so the Korean initiative had to align with the corporate initiatives in Germany. 

Marsh added that it was after these meetings that the organization learned four other teams would be included in the partnership initiative. “We’re super excited to be among those teams obviously – they’re some of the best esports teams in the world and it’s never bad company to keep.”

Rodriguez also noted that G2’s conversation with BMW began “in the second half of last year.”

From BMW’s perspective, the main unifying factor between all five of the esports organizations is that each fields teams in League of Legends. Together, these organizations cover the four major League of Legends professional regions – Korea (T1), North America (Cloud9), Europe (Fnatic and G2), and China (FunPlus Phoenix). In 2019, the title saw a 21.8M global average-minute-audience (AMA), for the World Championship final match played between FunPlus Phoenix and G2 Esports, according to Riot Games.

Credit: G2 Esports

All five teams finished in the top 12, earning a combined $1.4M USD in prize money during the tournament. At the time of this writing, all five teams are in position to qualify for the world championship event in 2020.

A number of automotive brands have pushed further into League of Legends esports over the last 18 months, including Kia’s renewed deal with the League of Legends European Championship, and Honda first partnering with Team Liquid and then adding North America’s League of Legends Championship Series.

Marsh explained why automotive partnerships are so significant to esports organizations:

“[Automotive] is one of the marquee categories right behind apparel. We got the deal with Nike, and automotive is a huge category. For us to land a global brand like BMW, who has a big presence in Korea and to go away from a traditional Korean brand, it just shows T1 is going global and a big focus for us,” Marsh said. “Lagardère did a great job bringing them to the table – we had the comfort level and met with their staff, got the tour of the facility, and are really impressed with what they’re doing, how they’re buying into esports – it’s not just about stickers and logos.”

Adam Stern and Graham Ashton contributed to this story.

Published at Thu, 16 Apr 2020 06:00:11 +0000

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