eSports and Marketing: How Fortnite Changed the Game
Occasionally we witness a unique and captivating marketing campaign. Whether it was the recent viral “World Record Egg” on Instagram (check out our blog) or the use of a brand new platform, these types of viral sensations have long lasting effects in the world of consumers and marketers.
From late 2017 until now we have been living in the age of Fortnite. Fortnite is an online multiplayer shooting game (developed by Epic Games) divided into three game modes, while captivating the world with its insanely popular Battle Royale mode. With over 125 million players and millions of dollars made, the game doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and brands are trying to find a way to get a piece of the action.
To help illustrate the unique marketing campaigns deployed in Fortnite, we’ve divided them up into distinct categories: Music, Sports and Consumer Products.
Marshmellow, world-renowned electronic dance DJ, held an “in-game” concert recently which drew roughly 11 million attendees for his 10 minute live performance. While not the first artist to hold a concert in a game, this was clearly the most attended one. He also saw a 3,000 percent increase on SongKick, 62,000 Twitter followers and a 5,200 growth on Twitch following the performance.
Drake, international rap superstar, has always vocalized his love for Fortnite, but when he teamed up with Ninja (aka Tyler Blevins, a pro Fortnite player/streamer on the video game streaming service, Twitch), he experienced fan engagement unlike anything ever seen. They broke the Twitch record of concurrent streamers with 628,000 viewers!
eSports marketing and sport gaming in general is flying high. The NFL partnered with Fortnite to offer in-game skins (customizable outfits worn by every player during the game) with all 32 teams and the option to choose between male and female versions.
While not an official partnership, Fornite also made all country soccer jerseys during the World Cup available for players as well.
Fast-food restaurant Wendy’s hosted its first livestream of the game on Twitch. Wendy’s set up a stream for free when it co-opted the game’s “Food Fight” mission. Missions in Fortnite are only available for a limited period, creating opportunities for brands like Wendy’s to do more “firsts” rather than repeating an existing advertisement. Brand awareness definitely increased for Wendy’s even if it was an indirect partner.
High-profile Fortnite streamer, Dr. Lupo, became the first professional eSports player to be sponsored by insurance company State Farm earlier this month. Many brands are getting into the eSports space by sponsoring individuals or teams.
Ninja, the most followed streamer on Twitch, was paid by UberEats to promote the game last summer. The UberEats promotion linked a level of discount to the number of “kills” Ninja made during a match. It was meant to be extended over a week, but the discount was redeemed so many times that the fast-food delivery service ended it after one day. Ninja is also sponsored by Red Bull and other various brands during his livestreams.
“Getting marketers to understand the eSports landscape can be challenging since it’s still unproven and nascent. But when a marketer is open to different, nontraditional or bold ideas, we’re finding that they are much more receptive,” said Paul Lammert, director of technology at advertising agency Colle McVoy.
Epic Games is also actively looking to incorporate brands, artists and other entertainment into their game over the next year, so it will be exciting to see the next creative in-game aspects with Season 8 just around the corner!