If you’re not a hard-core gamer, why would you ever venture into the deafening, frenetic chaos that is E3? The three-day electronics gaming convention held in Los Angeles each summer has a reputation for bombast and over-the-top extravaganza. As it hurdles into its twenty-first year amidst reports of sky-rocketing booth costs forcing major players to pull out of the main floor, questions have arisen around its continued relevance. Is there still a meaningful place for E3 in the wider marketing community’s landscape or is it simply a trade event for the geeks and journalists?
As I wandered through the illuminated, tech-laden halls, it seemed to me that, for now at least, E3 remains in the former camp; a destination still worthy of a visit. After all, when you’re dealing with an industry that’s valued at $99.3bn globally, that touches 1.2 bn gamers around the world, and possesses an enviable level of fan commitment and adulation (the average 13+ gamer in the US spends 6.3 hours a week playing video games), it’s critical to immerse yourself in that passion point and take learnings and inspiration from it.
E3 offers marketers a glimpse into the future. Into the future of devices, content, and consumer behaviour. E3 acts a portal into tomorrow’s living room, showing us the devices that will move from niche gaming to mass family use, the content that will move from game to film, and the likelihood of gamers embracing technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality into their gaming experience.
A tour of the showroom floor revealed four things:
1. Content reigns supreme.
This year, there was a palpable shift in emphasis from hardware to content. With Sony heralded as the winner on day one for its focus on exclusive game content, it was clear that the fans were most excited by the stories and the worlds that they will discover and the adventures that they’ll have online.
2. Devices are becoming Personal.
In a move that suggested a nod towards fashion and a response to the consumer desire for personalisation, Microsoft Xbox Design Lab announced that it’s allowing players to design and order their own Xbox One controllers. However, beyond the physical stamping of our selves onto devices, it’s the personalisation and application player data that’s really interesting.
3. VR is right around the corner.
VR gaming is a reality and whilst there was no single app held up as hero, news that Sony will launch its VR platform this October means that we’re on our way to hitting mass consumption levels. Whilst developers admitted that they’re still figuring out the implications of VR on the lone and shared gaming experience , and that they’ll need players to come on that journey with them, perhaps it is that very act of co-discovery that makes VR so revolutionary.
4. Competition heats up with the ongoing rise of eSports Leagues
Whilst the debate continues around whether eSports is a true sport or merely a competition, participation is becoming increasingly professional and high-profile, and spectatorship has become both event-based and shared. With global audiences exceeding 226mn, the opportunities to surround eSports stadiums and support players and fans is clear. Last year, Nissan leant into eSports by becoming a tournament sponsor, and this year Pepsi launched the ice-tea Brisk Mate to gamers to keep them refreshed and energized. We can expect more brands to actively explore this space and develop ways of giving fans access to the events and to the stars they’re now following in droves.
In an innovation-hungry world, it’s key that we look at how we can infuse the thinking of one sector into another. Inspiration comes from putting yourself in unfamiliar spaces and the ongoing evolution within the gaming industry cements its position as a source of inspiration and marketing activation.
By Bastian Mathes, Director Insight Planning at OMD Germany, and Johannes Laakmann, Manager Brand Experience at FUSE Germany
How a financial institution used eSports to reconnect with young people
Just a couple of years back, who would have thought that someday millions of people would spend hours watching other people play video games? And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening right now on Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
The number of people tuning in to watch game-oriented content is growing steadily. In terms of viewer numbers, Let’s Play videos or eSport broadcasts are as big as music videos or major sports events. And if you consider that 80% of millennials at least occasionally engage in some sort of gaming activity, the gaming content audience is only going to grow even further. Gaming has now turned into a “viewing medium”. (If you want to know more, check out our first post on that topic.) And, the industry keeps innovating to facilitate this development. Just a few weeks ago, Twitch.tv announced Stream First, a new initiative that aims to make sure that developers are building broadcasting capabilities directly into their games.
All this opens up great new opportunities for brands to connect with millennials who are increasingly escaping from the influence of traditional media. These opportunities mostly remain untapped so far. That’s why we created “Press Play”, a comprehensive presentation that we sent out to our clients to help them get a grasp of this dynamic industry and assess the marketing value for their businesses.
However, while eSports is increasingly capturing media attention, there’s not a lot of robust data available to inform marketing strategies. Consequently, many brands are still hesitant to build it into their marketing agenda. It takes a brave client to leave the beaten media track, ready to embrace a test and learn mentality over predict and control decision-making. Especially in a category that is traditionally rather conservative, like financial services.
An unusual suspect
Frankly, Wüstenrot, Germany’s oldest and biggest building society wasn’t that high up on the list of clients that we expected to be interested in eSports. But in hindsight, we couldn’t have asked for a better business case.
The challenge: Young people aged 18-29 are an important audience for Wüstenrot. But, unfortunately, they don’t want to spend much thought on house saving plans – the sort of service that Wüstenrot is primarily associated with.
So how could we help Wüstenrot connect with these guys in a meaningful way?
Gaining independence and determining their own lives is hugely important to millennials. We wanted to show them what Wüstenrot’s brand promise “Dreams become Reality” could mean for them, because building a house might not be on their agenda for a while. In fact, it might not even be what they’re dreaming of at all.
Not everybody’s dream
That’s why we partnered with ESL, the world’s largest eSports company, as well as five ambassadors from the German gaming and eSports scene.
We produced five short-form video documentaries that provide an authentic glimpse into the unconventional lives of professional gamers, shoutcasters and broadcasters. The influencers talk about how they managed to turn their passion into a profession, the obstacles they had to overcome and what it takes to actually make a living from gaming. Original content that sends a clear and credible message: Wüstenrot will help you make your dreams come true.
These influencer videos formed the centre of the content ecosystem that we crafted for Wüstenrot. In order to connect with eSport fans on a broader scale, we sealed a sponsorship deal with Germany’s biggest national eSport event: the ESL Championship Spring Season 2016. The ESL partnership provides the perfect platform to help distribute the content across digital broadcasting platforms and social media, driving traffic to Wüstenrot’s dedicated ESL microsite. Additionally, Wüstenrot will have a prominent presence at the ESL Championship event to pick up and deepen the dialogue that they successfully started with eSports online.
“You should offer Ubisoft courses in marketing.”
The campaign is still up and running so we aren’t able to share final results just yet. The ESL Championship Finals will take place on May 7th and 8th in Duisburg. But, the initial reactions that we received from the eSports community since we released the first video on February 26th have already exceeded our expectations, making it evident that we chose the right approach and picked the perfect influencers for the campaign.
Here are some Facebook comments that refer to the campaign:
- “This is how advertising should be. You should offer Ubisoft courses in marketing.”
- “I think it’s awesome, that Wüstenrot supports e-sports!”
- “You guys definitely understood the target audience.”
The lessons we learned
It wasn’t just Wüstenrot’s first foray into the exciting world of eSports, it was ours as well. We worked with various OMD units – from content to programmatic – to get this off the ground. But none of that would have happened without the passion and courage that Wüstenrot put behind this campaign and the experience and support of the guys at ESL. Open collaboration and communication between our client, ESL and all agency disciplines throughout the whole process were crucial for the successful implementation of this campaign.
Another important factor that facilitated the project was the groundwork that we had done in advance. We started “Press Play” as a proactive initiative working with some junior colleagues from the agency without a concrete client assignment. Our industry is not short of “next big things” and hypes, which can make it difficult to separate a real opportunity from a flash in a pan. So we didn’t know if it would lead anywhere. Nonetheless, we invested time and resources to fully understand the topic and build a solid argument rather than just throwing in some buzzwords. We prepared a holistic assessment of what’s happening in the gaming and eSports category based on the available data, and that´s what we should do more of. If we want to help our clients stay culturally relevant, we have to implement tools and processes to stay ahead of the curve, identify trends early on and invest the effort to present that information in a comprehensible and consistent way.
Last but not least, before the kick-off, it’s important to spend some time thinking about how to measure success and gather learnings along the way. We commissioned OMD’s research department to set up a consumer survey, in order to evaluate the impact of the campaign. We also made sure to document the planning, production and execution process to ensure we’d have enough material to build a business case post-campaign.
If you want to learn more about eSports and whether it can do something for your business then please get in touch [email protected] and let’s play.
By OMD Germany
Video Games are a global phenomenon with the industry now worth over $23.5 billion. It is, therefore, no surprise that in Germany alone there are over 29 Million gamers. However, the rising love of gaming has resulted in the average child spending up to 136 minutes video gaming a day! Our aim was to re-energise gamers and beat the digital industry with their own weapons.
Bringing gamers into the action
Using the Hasbro Nerf, we sought to get gamers away from the screen and take part of the action whilst unlocking additional growth potential for Hasbro’s fun blaster range.
So how can Hasbro make a lost generation enthusiastic about a range of non-digital toy guns? It was time to fight back for physical fun, but in order to relate to our gamers, we needed to make sure we had a fun digital element. We, therefore, headed straight to the dragon’s den, the biggest international Digital Game Fair in Cologne, and conquered the epicentre of the digital gamer’s world with the most famous influencers of this generation.
An analogue playground
15 YouTube stars invaded the Gamescom equipped with Nerf Blasters turning the whole fair into an analogue playground; proving the strength of real life fun with Nerf. The Gamescom action was recorded and instantly uploaded by the YouTube stars amplifying the Hasbro brand and messages to millions of followers. Moreover, we kicked off a sustainable wave of content creation via the YouTube stars who carried on the Nerf story at home and encouraged their fans to use the hashtag #NerfNicht and create even more real life Nerf-Action Videos online.
A campaign for Nerf’s real live action was born. The results exceeded all expectations with the hashtag #NerfNicht hitting the Top 5 German Twitter trending charts. The videos received over 3.8 Million views (+500% versus benchmark) and 8.2 Million contacts within a 1.9 Million target group, over 190,000 comments and over 653,000 like. Most importantly, Hasbro sold +40% more Nerf Blasters versus the previous year, making Nerf the best performing Hasbro brand (not limited to boys!) in Germany.