EWD: News for Week of 2/7/22-2/13/22
Updated: Apr 25
Topics: Partnerships, FaZe Clan, NFL, Minecraft, PUMA
FaZe Clan x NFL
The NFL and FaZe Clan announced another expanded partnership allowing further integration between gamers and NFL fans. The two will do a number of content activations in the next year, starting with a flag-football game featuring FaZe Clan members, NFL legends, and sports-and-gaming-focused content group AMP. FaZe Clan and the NFL will create co-branded content in the future as well.
The clear goal in this partnership is to cross-pollinate audiences and further normalize the convergence of gaming and traditional sports culture. The NFL and FaZe Clan have collaborated in 2019 around marquee league events such as the NFL Draft and Draft-a-thon, According to the FaZe Clan press release, the new initiative sets the stage for deeper and more frequent collaboration.
As previously mentioned, the NFL and FaZe Clan kicked off this renewed partnership the Saturday before the Super Bowl with a co-branded flag football game. Hosted by NFL Network's Good Morning Football co-host Kyle Brandt and entertainer Desi Banks, they are accompanied with sideline reporter FaZe Rug and special guest Deestroying. FaZe's team consisted of legendary influencers in the gaming space including: FaZe Temperrr, FaZe Adapt, FaZe Swagg, FaZe Nate Hill, FaZe Kaysan and multi-sport social media influencer Jenna Bandy. They are playing alongside female football player and actress, Toni Harris, and NFL Legends Michael Vick and Brett Favre. AMP, FaZe's opponent in this competition, is a "creator collective" of 6 YouTubers and streamers that have exploded onto the scene recently, including: JustFanum (633K subscribers on his solo YT channel), ImDavisss (1.19 million subscribers), Duke Dennis (1.63 million subscribers), Agent 00 (1.7 million subscribers), Kai Cenat (925K subscribers), and Chrisnxtdoor (62.4K subscribers). For each team’s participation in the flag football game, $25,000 per team will be donated to youth sports. FaZe Clan’s donation will support Snoop Dogg’s Youth Football League. The game took place live on FaZe Clan's YouTube and Twitch channels at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Ian Trombetta, SVP, social, influencer and content marketing at the NFL said:
Gaming continues to be a core pillar within the broader NFL strategy, and we are excited to announce a joint marketing initiative with FaZe Clan that will kick off with a co-branded flag football game at this year’s Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s.... In addition, our enhanced relationship will include first-ever activations and initiatives throughout the 2022-2023 season aimed at engaging our casual Gen Z fans.
Wow. On all levels. This activation done during the Super Bowl weekend as part of the Super Bowl Experience is insanely impressive. They brought together gaming and football on the biggest weekend of NFL's 365-day calendar year. FaZe Clan has embedded themselves as a part of gaming, lifestyle, and traditional sports culture with a plethora of notable collaborations over the last few years. This renewed partnership is everything FaZe wants as they continue to show why they're the best gaming entity to work with. The NFL made a smart move by continuing to work with FaZe Clan going forward as they try to reach the highly coveted Gen Z fan demographic.
Misfits x SPORTFIVE
Misfits Gaming Group names global sports marketing agency, SPORTFIVE, the exclusive agency for global commercial sales. SPORTFIVE will support the commercial development of Misfits’ esports teams across League of Legends (LEC), Rocket League (RLCS), Call of Duty (CDL) and Overwatch League (OWL). SPORTFIVE will work across Misfits esports and gaming portfolio in the US and Europe, focusing on 4 main areas:
Additionally, SPORTFIVE will be tasked with finding brand partners for Misfits recently announced Minecraft initiatives featuring two massive Minecraft creators Ranboo and Tubbo, who boast over 35 million total followers on social media.
Lagen Nash, CRO at Misfits Gaming Group said:
SPORTFIVE is a powerhouse in the sports and gaming industries, and they will help us to identify the best partnerships for us as we continue to grow as an organization through our existing League of Legends, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Rocket League teams as well as our Minecraft creators and new additions throughout the year.
In roughly 2 months, SPORTFIVE has added Misfits, Immortals, and even Bad Moon Talent to their already large portfolio in gaming and esports including T1 Entertainment & Sports and Fnatic. Everything about this deal seems pretty standard besides creating initiatives for Misfits new Minecraft creators. After all these years, Minecraft is still one of the biggest games for content creators to play and garner a really large audience. I'm surprised that more teams aren't signing the new generation of Minecraft content creators as they have extremely large audiences that are relatively young as well. Excited to see what SPORTFIVE and Misfits has in store going forward.
Immortals x Bitstamp
Great Lakes Region-based esports organization Immortals announced this week that they're partnering with Bitstamp as the "official cryptocurrency exchange" for the next three years. They wanted to partner with a crypto platform that has a proven track record and Bitstamp is the longest running crypto exchange in the world with over 10 years of company stability.
In their video announcement, CEO of Immortals Jordan Sherman talked about the plans of this partnership and what they inevitably want to provide for their community. They plan on activating and creating value for both them and the community at-large in 3 different ways:
Team Bitstamp: A network of content creators and influencers that are well-versed in web3 and actively play blockchain and NFT related games.
Immortals Invasion: Immortals is going to show up at a city in the Great Lakes Region (GLR) during the League of Legends World Championships this Fall while activating gaming and esports in unique ways
Trigger Promotion: Throughout the LCS Spring and Summer split, anytime the Immortals team gets first blood, Immortals will give away cryptocurrency on Bitstamp's exchange.
He mentioned in the video that their community is generally interested in the combination of cryptocurrency and esports. They're either interested in learning more about this space, or already investing in NFTs and the metaverse. The main goals of this partnership is to provide a partner to their fans that is stable and trustworthy while also giving fans a way to interact with both industries at once through some cool activations. For the most part, a lot of the cryptocurrency partnerships in esports haven't provided fans with a full layout of what they plan on activating out of the deal. It's always an emphasis on educating fans and showcasing the trustworthiness of a respective cryptocurrency exchange. I like that the Immortals CEO did a quick video explanation on the value they hope to provide to fans and why they decided to partner with Bitstamp.
Gambit Esports x Herbalife Nutrition
Herbalife Nutrition, a premier global nutrition company, becomes the "Official Partner of Gambit Esports" in a 3-year deal. The partnership will see Herbalife Nutrition experts partner with Gambit Esports and AS Monaco Gambit rosters including the CS:GO, Dota 2, Fortnite, VALORANT and Apex Legends teams in helping Gambit players develop individual nutrition and training programmes, as well as maintain a high level of motivation.
Nina Kandelaki, VP and GM of Herbalife Nutrition in specific regions (i.e. Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Middle-Eastern Countries, etc.) said this on the deal:
This collaboration with Gambit Esports opens the unique world of esports with its enormous potential and rapidly growing audience of young fans. We are looking forward to working with the team to help them improve their overall nutrition by integrating personalized advice and products into the players’ lives. As a partner of the Gambit Esports team we share their ambition of continuing improvement and high performance
A health and nutrition-based company like this is exactly what more gaming and esports teams should try and partner with. Although some might not understand the fit because everyone associates gamers with an unhealthy lifestyle, I think it's a golden opportunity for organizations and health-based companies to emphasize and educate young gamers on healthy nutritional alternatives. Herbalife Nutrition is well accredited in traditional sports as it's the official sponsor of more than 170 athletes, teams and sports events around the world. Herbalife Nutrition works with these individuals and teams as well to bring them its expertise and science-based nutrition products in support of their performance.
Konstantin Pikiner, Sports Director of Gambit Esports echoed these points saying that "a lot of our fans become concerned about healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition choices. I believe it is our responsibility to make efforts to promote such values in the esports community, and Herbalife Nutrition is exactly the kind of partner we need in such an endeavor."
Minecraft x PUMA Collaboration
PUMA and Minecraft announced and dropped a collaboration this week that includes the 'Sprint Dash DLC', in-game skins, and apparel. The apparel emphasized the pixelated aesthetic of the immensely popular Minecraft title. Some apparel included the Minecraft logo, the 'creeper' face graphic, among other Minecraft essentials for sale. Cristina Anderca at Minecraft said the "apparel and footwear from this collection is perfect for when you want to adventure away from the screen – or just game in comfort and style."
The Sprint Dash DLC includes a PUMA Minecraft skinpack (20 skins) and Minecraft sprint map for Bedrock edition. There are 3 interactive maps that include caves, cliffs, a cityscape, and a jungle. The goal is to end up the fastest out of the race rather than escaping from a bunch of skeletons, creepers, and spiders (while also rocking some PUMA kicks).
Regardless of the ideas surrounding the metaverse (which has existed for quite sometime even though its a buzzword now), I love seeing apparel brands collaborate with popular sandbox-style games such as Minecraft and Roblox. These games have existed for so many years and cultivate a global audience at-scale. There's so many opportunities and ways for these brands to engage video games such as these. Digital collectibles, flexing your PUMA merch digitally and IRL, and generating brand loyalty amongst a younger age demographic is among the many benefits of a partnership such as this.
Astralis Acquires Majority Stake of PIXEL.TV
Danish-based esports organization, Astralis, acquires majority stake in PIXEL.TV, a Danish production house and broadcaster. According to the Astralis press release, PIXEL.TV has built a strong position in the entertainment segment of gaming, gadgets, gear, and movies in Denmark.
Anders Hørsholt, CEO of Astralis on the deal:
PIXEL.TV was the first Danish internet-based TV platform and over the past decade CEO Thomas Bense has built a strong position in the Danish gaming and entertainment community. The acquisition is a strategic move that will support the Astralis brand and activities, significantly strengthening our digital production, presence, and reach, to further engage a fast-growing audience.
According to Jakob Lund Kristensen, Founder and CRO of Astralis, their goal of this partnership is to make PIXEL.TV the largest gaming platform in Denmark while also growing the PIXEL.TV audience internationally. He mentions that PIXEL.TV reaches a broad audience of gamers and that they are in a unique situation as one of the 1st players in this industry. They hope that the operational and consistently growing audience of Astralis will realize PIXEL.TV's potential. Overall, this just seems like a perfect fit for both parties.
Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl III
Another gaming-related event that occurred around the Super Bowl is the 3rd annual Twitch Rivals Fortnite Streamer Bowl. Twitch Rivals partnered with Epic Games and the NFLPA to host this event for the 3rd year in a row. The event was streamed on the Twitch Rivals page on February 9th and 10th. Featuring a mix of popular streamers, NFL athletes, and community champions, the third Streamer Bowl event was stacked with 60 popular influencers. Here's a list of the teams and rosters involved (provided by Dexerto):
Prizing for this event accumulated to $1,000,000 total. Prize money earned by each Trio will be donated to a charity chosen by the Streamer & NFL Star. The tournament consisted of several stages: the first part was a mobile challenge supported by Samsung, where streamers played Fortnite on mobile devices. The main competition was divided into two halves with a break between them, as well as the finale (featuring Murda Beatz and presented by Amazon Music). To keep viewers attention, Twitch Drops with customized emotes were available to download in-game, which directly affected viewership statistics.
According to Stream Charts, the final event peaked at 335K viewers, and the official TwitchRivals channel became the most popular one with 189K viewers. The second spot belongs to Nickmercs, who co-streamed with 48.5K viewers. If we compare the events of the Streamer Bowl in previous years, then this one has shown itself to be the best in terms of every indicator (peak viewers, hours watched, etc.). Considering competitive Fortnite hasn't has any major LAN events recently, Epic Games should really think about investing more into their esports vertical going forward. Fortnite is definitely not at their peak in terms of casual play, but the game is still very entertaining to watch competitively.