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.