The Monthly Report Card: September

Showcasing industry best practices and providing insight into best use of celebrities and influencers. 

(1.) Nike—Colin Kaepernick

colin.jpg

Grade A

Nike commemorated the 30th anniversary of their, “Just Do It,” campaign this month. During the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick brought attention to racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Great controversy arose once the kneeling escalated into a social movement and in 2017 Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Nike debuted their new Dream Crazy campaign, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing Everything,” with Kaepernick as the face of inspiration. Although the campaign had immediate backlash, such as the burning of Nike sneakers it had a favorable impact on sales—as Nike saw a 31% increase. Lebron James, Odell Beckham Jr., Shaquem Griffin, Lacey Baker, and Serena Williams are among others taking part in the campaign which encourages you to follow even the wildest of dreams. “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.” #justdoit

(2.) Hulu—James Harden

Harden

Grade B+

Hulu’s ‘Never Get Hulu’ commercial made its debut during the 2018 Emmys awards show on NBC. The spot opens with Houston Rocket’s James Harden suggesting that the audience listen carefully. The reverse-psychology ad relies on celebrity joke-telling in what feels like a very desperate attempt to mock their competitor’s “Netflix Is A Joke” 2017 campaign (which made its debut during last year’s Emmys). Miles Brown, Samira Wiley, Sofia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Sarah Silverman and Jared Goff also appear in the ad. The overwhelming celebrity variety was a deliberate effort to better represent all of the content that Hulu offers—and it did. Although the cast was superb, the reverse-psychology felt passé and was quite literally unoriginal.

(3.) Levi’s—Aretha Franklin

Levi.jpg

Grade A+

Levi’s ‘Use Your Vote’ commercial is a call to action—specifically encouraging millennials to get to the polls and vote. The spot is also commemorative of Aretha Franklin as it features her song, “Think”. The commercial follows diverse individuals as they head to the polls. Each person is linked to the next not only in their choice to wear Levi clothing but also in their choice to exercise their right to vote. Levi’s also set up voter registration booths in select stores on National Voter Registration Day.  This ad is an excellent display of branding, Levi’s drove home their brand purpose all while catering to the millennial consumer.

(4.) Macys—Becky Hammon

Macys

Grade A+

Macy’s and BBDO continue the ‘Remarkable You’ campaign with six female professionals, each of whom is a star in their career. San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Becky Hammon is perhaps the best known of the bunch. But Hammon is in great company—Mishaal Ashemimry (aerospace engineer), JoAnn Falletta (conductor and music director), Vanessa Beckman (teacher), Patricia Valoy (civil engineer) and Tiffiny Blacknell (public defender). The ad highlights each woman at the helm of their unique professional elements to the tune of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”—a true image of female empowerment.

(5.) Verizon Fios—Gaten Matarazzo

verizon.jpg

Grade A

“Stranger Things” star Gaten Matarazzo, who made his debut as a FIOS spokesperson last year, resurfaces in Verizon’s ‘Good Neighbor’ ad. He sees his neighbor unloading a sweet new 4K TV but is shocked to find out he didn’t get FIOS to go along with it. Matarazzo explains how a fiber optic connection would help all of their devices work a lot better. The spot is simple, to the point and quirky with Matarazzo as the spokesperson.

(6.) Nissan—Naomi Osaka

Nissan.png

Grade A

Naomi Osaka captured her first Grand Slam title and made her appearance as Nissan’s new global brand ambassador within days of one another. Nissan’s Japanese roots were highly attractive to Osaka, the first Japanese tennis player to win a women’s singles Grand Slam event. The partnership feels natural and Osaka embodies all that Nissan strives for. After all, Nissan’s slogan is, “Innovation that excites,” and Osaka’s victory exudes excitement.

(7.) Dior—Jennifer Lawrence

Joy

Grade B

Dior introduced their new JOY fragrance with Jennifer Lawrence as the face of the scent. JOY is Dior’s first new fragrance in 20 years. Lawrence’s face has become somewhat of an icon for Dior as she has worked with the brand for over six years. In the ad, Lawrence is wearing a stunning white gown as she lounges poolside. Each moment leaves her smiling—diving into the pool, basking in the sun, she even smiles as she reaches for a jellyfish and emerges from the pool in a sopping wet gown. Although the aesthetics of the ad are eye-grabbing, the smell that accompanies swimming in a pool is not one that people would be eager to douse themselves in.

(8.) Geico—Stefon Diggs

geico.PNG

Grade A

In Geicos new spot, Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings grabs mail from his mailbox when the mail sticks to his hand. The mailbox, garbage bin and even a neighbor high-fiving Diggs as he jogs past his house, also stick to his hands, because “everything sticks to Stefon Diggs’ hands.” Across the street his neighbors are watching in awe, but for a different reason—it was so easy for them to save money on car insurance by switching to Geico. The Diggs’ spectacle is humorous and timely as it made its debut during Thursday Night Football.

photo credits: YouTube 

Advertisements

Partnering With Micro-Influencers Over Macro-Influencers

influncer blog

When it comes to choosing an influencer for your brand it is not a numbers game.

Micro-influencers have a niche audience of dedicated followers wherein quality trumps quantity.

Recently deemed the marketing force of the future, micro-influencers usually have between 10K and 500K followers on each of their social platforms.

A common misconception is that an influencer must have a following 10 times the actual amount needed to bring value to a brand, but this is far from the truth! In fact, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) found that 96% of brands placed “quality of followers” at the top of their influencer checklist. “Credibility and reputation,” was a close second.

Lifestyle blogger Jordan Santos @jordanrisa partners with brands like Michael Kors and Dolce Vita. OPI recently named her their “it girl.”  She also has a knack for social advocacy and is on a mission to help end drunk driving by any means possible.

In her Instagram post above, Santos sports Michael Kors sneakers and a D.A.R.E t shirt—seamless execution of combining style and social advocacy.

Fitness and wellness guru Michelle Carigma @_modernfit has partnered with nearly all of the big names in sports—Addidas, Nike, and Under Armor—to name a few. She has also worked with Victoria Sport, Wanu water, Beats By Dre and Panera Bread. Like @jordanrisa, Carigma also works to intertwine style and social advocacy. Carigma pioneered the #WCWoman social movement which strives, “to break conformity and introduce the influential power of the modern woman.”

Engagement plays a huge role when looking at the quality of an influencer’s followers. A smaller following means higher engagement rates which parlays into more influence by said micro-influencer. Conversely, a macro-influencer with a larger following likely has lower engagement rates.

Not only is engagement measured in likes and comments but also by the ultimate trust an influencer must gain from their followers. Micro influencer, Nicholas Pakradooni has an average engagement rate of 6.57%. To put that in perspective, Kylie Jenner who is also in her early 20s averages at 3.84%.

Fashion influencer Nicholas Pakradooni @cholpak collaborates with brands such as H&M Man, ASOS, Swatch and Topman.

When it comes to authenticity, celebrities pale in comparison to micro-influencers. Partnering with micro influencers who are genuine in their shared interests and likeness for your brand can be more mutually beneficial than partnering with celebrity macro influencers.

photo credit: Automated Social (Flickr)

The Monthly Report Card: July

Showcasing the best practices of the industry and providing insight into how to best use celebrities or influencers to your brand’s advantage.

(1). StubHub – Future, Todd Gurley & Albert Pujols

stubhub

Grade A

StubHub released a new marketing campaign centered around regret. Future proves that concert tickets to his show is better than a fancy dinner and boring birthday present. Todd Gurley is in a pottery class with a bachelorette party where the bride would rather be at a NFL game. Albert Pujols proves you should call your dad and invite him to a MLB game. Tying these commercials together with the slogan ‘Be There’ plays on the viewers heartstrings that they will probably regret the fancy dinner, pottery class and not calling your dad, but they won’t regret buying one of these live experiences with StubHub being the only way to get you there. StubHub is trying to change the way a consumer views them, from just selling tickets, to selling experiences.

 

(2). Ruby Tuesday – Rachel Dratch

ruby tues

Grade D

At the beginning of 2018, Ruby Tuesday hired a new CEO who wanted to find a way to set the brand apart from the competitors. His first mistake was choosing a partnership with Rachel Dratch. Yes, Rachel Dratch certainly made the commercial different than competitors but not in a positive way. Even though the goal of the commercial was to target the younger crowd, it missed the mark mainly because the younger crowd most likely does not know who she is unless they watch old reruns of SNL. Her voices along with the annoying sub-par jokes would make any viewer change the channel quickly.

 

(3). Walmart – “Let’s Get it Started” by Black Eyed Peas

walmart

Grade A

While Walmart is a household name, their back-to-school ‘Go Back Big’ campaign with “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas brought more awareness to their brand with the 2003 song. The week of July 23, 2018 the commercial was the number three most Shazam’d commercial, yet again placing Walmart on another Shazam list with a successful music licensing partnership. With the help of the Black Eyed Peas, Walmart was able to stand apart from other back to school commercials because it showed the ease and excitement of back-to-school shopping using the Walmart app. With an overwhelmingly upbeat song, parents lining up-cheering and high-fiving their children as they run up excitedly to school for the first day, makes any parent dream that this is their child’s first day experience. A commercial like this, where the brand and song are benefiting, is definitely a successful music licensing campaign.

 

(4). Dick’s Sporting Goods – song by Nacey

dicks

Grade A

The ‘Play Like You Own It’ campaign by Dick’s Sporting Goods was a refreshing summer sports commercial. It showed the dedication and hard work athletes put into off-season training. “I Own It” by Nacey caps off the campaign by giving it an upbeat feel without overpowering the underlying message of all the apparel and equipment offered at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

(5). Coca-Cola & FIFA – Jason Derulo

coke

Grade A

With the help of Burns Entertainment, Coca-Cola released their #Ready commercial after the beginning of the FIFA World Cup. “You Had Four Years” and “Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute” appeared on the screen to remind spectators not to be like the Jason Derulo or the other fans, missing any of the World Cup because they were not prepared with a Coca-Cola in hand for the game. Coca-Cola has one of the longest corporate partnerships with FIFA, having advertised in stadiums at every FIFA World Cup since 1950. Partnering with Jason Derulo this year, Coca-Cola commercials hit 185 countries before the beginning of the 2018 World Cup. Derulo and Coca-Cola also collaborated on the 2018 World Cup song, “Colors”, continuing that nostalgic relationship between FIFA and Coca-Cola.

 

(6). Gatorade – Serena Williams

gatorade.png

Grade B

Serena Williams, a mother of one, was featured in the Gatorade ‘Like a Mother’ commercial. The campaign shows that Serena did not return to greatness despite becoming a mother, but rather she has always been great because she plays #LikeAMother. She commentates, “you sacrifice, push through the pain, got back to work, gave 100% without any sleep, grew stronger, found an extra gear, never lost you, you created greatness, like a mother.” Gatorade exemplifies the drive that mothers have, much like athletes, and that being a mother is not a hurdle. Gatorade’s commercial is compelling and empowering to all women. The only hope is that viewers do not take the “like a mother”a derogatory way.

 

(7). Specialized – Peter Sagan (3x Cycling World Champion)

sp.png

Grade B+

Specialized used the Tour de France to promote the Turbo Electric Bike with the help of three-time Cycling World Champion Peter Sagan and Grandma Joan, creating a lighthearted, “friendly” competition commercial.  Grandma Joan, with two knee replacements and a pacemaker, ultimately wins the race against a world champion cyclist because of the Turbo e-bike. The brand Specialized is proving that “electric bikes are leveling the playing field for the future of cycling” and could be enough for the brand to see a large revenue boost in their turbo e-bikes sales.

 

(8). Rolex – Rickie Fowler

rolex.png

Grade B

Rolex has been the Official Timekeeper of the U.S. Open since 1980. Their campaign with various golfers tells the story of how they became the golfer they are today. Rickie Fowler was a natural choice for Rolex because he regularly shows off his collection of Rolex watches on social media. Being sponsored by Rolex for a few years, Fowler’s commercial was inspirational and tells a story like every Rolex tells a story. He said, “If you keep being who you are, everything else falls into place.” Rolex makes it clear that the brand holds the same beliefs as Ricky Fowler and other golfers and share in the ambition for excellence and superior performance while making a name for themselves in their collective industry.

 

(9). Speedo – Olympic Swimmers

speedo.png

Grade B

Celebrating swimming’s most decorated brand, Dripping In Gold features #TeamSpeedo Olympic Medalists Nathan Adrian, Missy Franklin, Conor Dwyer, Cullen Jones, Elizabeth Beisel, Ryan Murphy, Kevin Cordes, Katie Meili, Hali Flickinger and Becca Meyers. Speedo is already jumping on the 2020 Summer Olympics marketing bandwagon with this commercial proving how trusted the brand is among athletes by showing them practicing in the apparel. Being the most trusted brand for over fifty years, Speedo took a subtle approach to show their achievements. Dripping in Gold is a creative way the brand ties the Olympics, athletes and the success of the brand together.

 

(10). Priceline – Kaley Cuoco

price.png

Grade C-

Priceline has done nothing new in their latest commercial featuring Kaley Cuoco. The past two years she has stood in a hotel and talked about the features Priceline has over competitors. This commercial is no different. With her large social presence and fan base, Priceline could have used Cuoco to their advantage. They have not done that in their latest commercial. In 2013 when the partnership began, she sat alongside William Shatner with much better creative concepts. But since Shatner’s exit, Cuoco’s commercials resemble all the other travel website commercials and needs new creative or a new face.

photo credits: YouTube

The Monthly Report Card: June

Showcasing the best practices of the industry and providing insight into how to best use celebrities or influencers to your brand’s advantage.

(1). Major League Soccer – Miguel

1 MLS

Grade: A

Miguel, a Grammy winning singer/songwriter and fan of the Los Angeles Galaxy, partnered with MLS for their ‘Our Soccer’ campaign. Miguel not fitting into the normal soccer fan was exactly what MLS wanted. He represented the spirit and diversity of the MLS. What makes this commercial a step above other professional league commercials is the ability to show where soccer began for many and who represents the sport. Miguel’s voiceover that described ‘Our Soccer’ was intense and painted an impactful image for viewers on how soccer effects people’s lives.

(2). Wells Fargo – Landon Donovan

2 wells fargo

Grade: A-

Landon Donovan, player for the US National Soccer Team, partnered with Wells Fargo for a 360-marketing campaign. In the Wells Fargo commercial, Donovan was supporting the Mexico National Team for the World Cup. Wells Fargo selected the correct celebrity for this campaign because they tied Donovan to his roots. Donovan grew up and played in the MLS with Mexican players. He has supported them even though he did not make the World Cup. Donovan on social media used #MyOtherTeamIsMexico to tie the World Cup and the Wells Fargo campaign full circle.

(3). Sonic – Ellie Kemper & Jane Krakowski

3 sonic

Grade: B-

Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski are back sitting in a car trying to be hysterical for the Sonic commercial, this one was a better attempt than past commercials. Even though it was predictable, they embraced their roles from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and bantered like they do in the show. Their improv may have made a new word to describe food. “Flispy” is how Krakowski called Sonic Chicken Tenders, flavorful and crispy. If American’s catch on, this Sonic commercial could become a major success…by creating a new word to explain fast food.

(4). Adidas – Various

4 adidas

Grade: A

Adidas “re-engineered” how to advertise with this campaign. They released “Create the Answers” campaign during the World Cup. Adidas used 56 different celebrities from around the world, including Leo Messi, David Beckham, Von Miller and Pharrell Williams. Adidas’s message was to ‘ignore the script’ and create your own reality. Adidas did that themselves in this commercial. While their campaign was not favorably viewed, Adidas has launched themselves ahead in the celebrity marketing and advertising categories.

(5). Adidas – James Harden

5 adidas

Grade: A

James Harden was featured in the new Adidas commercialDreams Become Reality” days after winning the NBA’s MVP award. Harden’s mother, Monja Willis, was also featured in the commercial by having a voiceover about how hard Harden worked to be the best he could. The commercial was centered around a note he wrote his mother about being a star when he grew up. Adidas’ campaign showed viewers that stars started somewhere and that their hard work and dedication got them to where they are today. There could not have been a better time to release this commercial.

(6). Perfect Night – Corona Premier

6 corona

Grade: A

Everyone has those summer nights outside with their friends that they never want to end. Corona Premier uses a creative way to make the night keep going in their ‘Perfect Night’ commercial. Once the candle burns out, they use a phone flashlight and a full Corona Premier bottle to create light for the table. ‘I Turn You On’ by The Isley Brothers sets the background for the perfect night lakeside with friends.

(7). Coca-Cola – Hannes Þór Halldórsson & Iceland National Team

7 coke

Grade: A

This Icelandic Coca-Cola commercial was intended for only Iceland, yet it got international success. This commercial was directed by Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Goalkeeper for the Iceland National Team. The commercial takes you through the lives of Icelandic citizens and how the World Cup, like Coca-Cola, brings the country together. Hannes builds everyone up to this moment where his teammate, Birkir Bjarnason scores a winning goal and the whole country is celebrating…with a Coca-Cola in hand of course. While there are few words the viewer can feel the emotions surrounding the World Cup.

(8). Gatorade – Lionel Messi & Luis Suárez

8 gatorade

Grade: B

Gatorade is pushing into the soccer world by creating a sport specific drink, Gatorade Football Energy. What better two people to promote this than friends on and off the field, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez. When it comes to playing for their national teams, the players compete harder than they have before. In the ‘Everything Changes’ campaign, Gatorade uses this rivalry to their advantage and amplifies it in this commercial. Both players prepare for the game by drinking Gatorade Football Energy. While the full version drags on, the 60 second time slot makes a statement for Gatorade’s new target market.

(9). Heineken – ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli’s

9 Heineken

Grade: B

Released at the end of June, Heineken had a World Cup themed commercial. It was about two people that looked as if they were in love and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli made you think they were in love. Then, the camera changed views and showed them actually mesmerized by the soccer team on the television. After the team won, the two ran into each other while celebrating over a Heineken. After becoming the Official Beer of the MLS, it was strategic for Heineken to release a commercial for the World Cup. Their attempt at this, however, was another predictable beer celebration commercial that after seeing it a few times, gets old.

(10). Pepsi/Uncle Drew – Kyrie Irving

10 pepsi

Grade: A+

What started as a YouTube video campaign in 2012 has turned into a big screen movie collaboration. Celebrity Kyrie Irving, promoted Pepsi back in 2012 by creating the character Uncle Drew releasing five-minute videos. Irving has now brought that character to life in a movie titled Uncle Drew. During the time of the movie release, Pepsi created commercials with Irving to promote both Pepsi and Uncle Drew. ‘Timeless’ transitions through history with Uncle Drew (Irving) and Pepsi. The campaign shows that no matter what, Pepsi has always been there throughout the years.

photo credits: YouTube

NBA Playoffs vs. Primetime Television Celebrity Marketing

nike

With millions of viewers worldwide, how does a brand decide which commercial platform, a championship series or Primetime television, is best for them?

Celebrity marketing can be an influential part of a brand and knowing when to air their campaigns, during a championship versus primetime television, should be determined based on budget, viewership numbers and overall brand goals.

Generally speaking, championship series have more viewers than primetime. In Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals there were 17.4 million viewers. On average, a top-rated television series such as This is Us has 9.56 million viewers.

In 2017, This Is Us had the highest costing 30-second TV commercial slots, with one commercial costing $394,428, however the NBA Finals commercial slots went for roughly $520,000 (in 2015).

When deciding to air a celebrity campaign a brand should ask these questions:

  1. Who is the audience?

Allstate’s Mayhem commercial, ‘Ring Bearer’ with actor Dean Winters and music licensing of song “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups was focused on wedding season and causing mayhem during the big day. Allstate’s humor intrigues a variety of viewers. While it could work during the NBA finals, primetime television would be better because of the commercial’s target audience.

Since ‘Ring Bear’ was about a wedding Allstate was targeting a younger female demographic. This commercial would be more accruable during episodes of This Is Us or Greys Anatomy where the typical demographic is female and the episodes are pulling at their heartstrings.

  1. What is the brand message?

NBA’s campaign had basketball stars, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan speaking up about mental wellness. They brought to light that as an athlete it is okay to have an illness and health matters.

Advocate for mental health, Kristen Bell, would also be a great candidate for a mental health campaign, however, since the NBA was sponsoring the commercial they wanted young athletes to know basketball stars have illnesses too. Love and DeRozan are clearly a better fit for the NBA’s mental wellness campaign.

If the NBA had played this during an episode of the Big Bang Theory, it would not have given the same effect as it did during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

  1. What celebrity do you have?

Nike’s commercial surrounding the NBA Finals was with the infamous LeBron James. Nike’s “The Tattoo” commercial was released on the eve of the NBA Finals. It was about James getting his tattoo of the ‘Chosen 1’ 16 years ago.

Nike’s Always Believe campaign worked during the Finals and not on primetime because it was about him believing in himself to make it to where he is. Nike wanted to inspire other athletes to believe in themselves as well.

If these questions all lead to airing the celebrity endorsement during the championship series then do it. The brand will get immense exposure with the right target audience.

Celebrity endorsements could be used on multiple platforms and also work well. If it’s not feasible to do both primetime and a championship series, asking these questions should determine the best fit for the brand campaign’s message.

photo credit: Nike via (YouTube)

Young Olympians Can Teach Celebrity Marketers About Generation Z

Elena Vasileva (flickr)Now that the Olympic stars of the future have arrived, how can they improve marketers’ understanding of the next generation?

The Olympic Games are a unique event in human history, for they bring the world together through the pursuit of excellence and celebration of the human spirit.

These athletes have unprecedented reach and been used for decades in marketing campaigns to represent brands.

However, the Winter Games have been taken over by a new wave of young superstars like Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, Maame Biney, Vincent Zhou, and Nathan Chen. Not surprisingly, the successes of these athletes have almost been overshadowed by their personalities.

Here are two major lessons that these new Olympians can teach celebrity marketers.

The Myth of “Digital Obsession”

We have all heard the critics of Millennials and Gen Z lamenting that the social fabric is being ruined by rampant use of technology. These cliches have become rather toxic.

If there is anything that these athletes are proving, it is that this myth needs to die quickly. Celebrity marketers must meet Gen Z on their level, creating experiences and content that appeal to them.

Chloe Kim dominated the half pipe on her way to a near perfect score, gold medal, and national headlines. But many outlets reported instead that the tweeted her cravings while waiting for her next run.

That is unheard of in Olympic sport. Instead of folding under pressure, she tweeted and showed her composure, then went out and became the youngest gold medal winner in the history of the event.

It would be naive to suggest there was no danger associated with rampant obsession with technology, but celebrity marketers who understand that technology usage by younger generations is not to be feared will be in position to reap the rewards as it becomes embraced as the new normal.

Influencer Personality Doesn’t Have an Age Requirement

A common perception held by some marketing professionals is partnerships with younger influencers are much more volatile and not worth the risk. Young Olympians have already begun to buck this trend.

Simply by qualifying, athletes like Red Gerard, Maame Biney, and Chloe Kim were approached by top brands for sponsorship opportunities and they have been rewarded by their successes.

Generation Z should not be defined by traditional standards of maturity and the need to reach a certain threshold to be an effective influencer. These athletes are still teenagers by any measure.

However, it reinforces the emerging doctrine that influencers should be recruited for the experience they give consumers rather than relying on old endorsement standards.

A 17-year-old who wins a gold medal in a sport they live for, who willing tweets they are hungry for ice cream or chips to calm nerves can be just as impactful with consumers as a more expensive A-lister with less connection to the product.

Partnering with an Olympic athlete can be tricky since they aren’t in the public eye for long periods of time, but young athletes like those mentioned above are the future. Smart marketers and brand agents recognize, even if you do not partner directly with them, that the way these stars interact with the market should be adopted to succeed.

photo credit: Elena Vasileva via (flickr)

 

Esports Fans Crave Celebrity Marketing Through Social Media

nullienphotography (photopin)

Combining trends of rising social media usage and esports viewership can lead to significant future growth from any brand partnership.

Esports have grown out of its trendy status and are here to stay. What many thought would be a fad has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon and is challenging conventional entertainment giants.

The largest global esports event, The Dota 2 International Championship, was viewed by 40 million people with as many as two million watching at one point. The entire tournament drew 92 million viewers with over 509 million hours of video consumed.

The League of Legends World Championship brought in even larger crowds than Dota’s with a total of almost 58 million viewers, a yearly growth of 34%. The semi-finals drew a total of 80 million unique people watching concurrently. The parent company, Riot Games, boasts that their events feature professionals from 28 different countries, its global audience consuming over 1.2 billion hours of content.

If these events continue to grow at their current rates, it will only be a matter of time before they surpass the Super Bowl, which reaches over 110 million unique viewers.

Similarly, worldwide social media usage has been rising exponentially, with an estimate two-and-a-half billion global users. Users within the 16-34 age demographic spend an average of 3.21% of their day watching social media video like esports. The average age of a US esports viewer lies within the 25-34 age group, making up almost 40% of the total audience. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have begun their scramble to be included in the esports market.

However, it is important to reach these consumers exclusively on social media. Companies like ESPN and NBC are trying to bring esports to television audiences, but esports ratings clearly point to fans’ desire to keep content in the digital sphere. Brands can capitalize on this by seizing the opportunity to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch or even partnering with well-known esports professionals like Lee “Faker” Sang-hyoek, Soren Bjerg, and Yiliang Peng.

Take for example Gillette’s move to announce professional esports gamer xPeke as its Global Brand Ambassador. The Spanish celebrity was featured in first-of-its-kind commercials with esports highlights to promote the partnership and it spread all over YouTube. Gillette also collaborated xPeke with their international superstar partner Neymar Jr. leading to increased exposure for him and esports in general.

Another company, HyperX, decided to endorse a crossover athlete, NBA player Gordon Hayward. This apparel deal showed the early connection between esports and traditional celebrities, with Hayward agreeing to only wear HyperX headsets and appear in campaigns for the brand that is popular with gamers.

Celebrity marketing continues to evolve with the integration of esports into the entertainment sphere. Brands can now reach a sizable market of international consumers through a partnership with talent from prominent esports leagues. Getting in on the action at this point will put brands in a prime position to reap the benefits of larger audiences going forward.

photo credit: nullienphotography via flickr.com