Adidas and K-Swiss Partner With Esports Teams

TNL Take: We've spoken about the upcoming NBA 2K League's opportunity regarding apparel/footwear and brands should take notice. Two recently announced partnerships further strengthen this avenue for merchandising and marketing.

Danish team North announced a deal with Adidas to wear their branded jerseys through the rest of 2018 during all activities. Adidas had previously signed a deal with French squad Team Vitality last year and sees them further expand in the space.

Photo: North

Photo: North

Adidas already sponsors FC Copenhagen which is associated with North along with Nordisk Film. Expect filmed content and social media activity as part of this deal as well.

Also announced on the same day was an innovative partnership between K-Swiss and Immortals. The first product for limited-released arrives in December 2018 with the K-Swiss Kompass sneaker having been redesigned with Immortals branding and colors.

Photo: Immortals x K-Swiss

Photo: Immortals x K-Swiss

Second, and the most unique part of the deal, is the development of the first-ever high-end performance gaming sneaker for esports players of all levels. K-Swiss will take the next year to work with their players from Dota 2, Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, and Super Smash Bros. to create the sneaker. Fans will be able to follow along as Immortals and K-Swiss document the entire process from beginning to end.

Through visits to Immortals’ Los Angeles-based training facility over the next few months, K-Swiss designers willconsider a professional gamer’s technical performance needs, such as the rising temperature in a shoe and movement of feet during a match. Intended to be cool, lightweight and breathable, the performance style will make its debut in early 2019.

The immersion, fan feedback and key word - engagement - all make this a great program.

As more trappings of traditional sports enters esports, it's not shocking that big apparel/athletic/streetwear brands are finally taking notice of the market. As the NBA 2K League tips off today, I still believe that the Jordan brand would be a perfect fit.

Your move now Nike and Under Armour.

TNL Esports Brand Tracker 012: Lionsgate

Global content leader Lionsgate announced a partnership with the Los Angeles Valiant of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League to promote season three of the Starz Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead.

The partnership, which will see Ash vs Evil Dead become the Valiant’s sole and exclusive jersey sponsor through at least Stage 2 of the inaugural season of Overwatch League.

Ari Segal, LA Valiant’s President and COO said, “Ash vs Evil Dead is a content property that is highly contextual to gaming and to our core demo and fan base. By creating truly unique, money-can’t-buy experiences for our fans around that property, we elevate the fan experience to something that aims at more than merely being a fan of a team; instead, we’re building a real community of people that activates around not only the Valiant, but also other properties or events from which it derives value and enjoyment.”

Peter Levin, the LA Valiant’s Chairman and Lionsgate’s President of Interactive Ventures, Games, and Digital Strategy, continued, “The Valiant’s audience, the audience for Overwatch League and esports generally, is one of the most elusive and yet highly sought after demographics. At both Lionsgate and the LA Valiant, we continue to think three dimensionally about how to reach and authentically connect with that constituency.”

As part of the sponsorship, Valiant fans will be given unprecedented access to Ash vs Evil Dead experiences, including exclusive screenings at Lionsgate’s studios in Santa Monica, Q&A/AMAs with creative voices behind the franchise, meet-and-greets, and more.


LA Valiant CEO Noah Whinston added, “This jersey sponsorship is a message to our fans that we will continue to work with partners and brands that look to add value to the fan experience. Lionsgate is completely aligned with us on this philosophy, as evidenced by this landmark partnership, and we will continue to create and integrate brands, events, and content to push the frontier of how teams create differentiated and lasting connections.

The new Ash vs Evil Dead-sponsored jerseys debuted in competition during the first week of Overwatch League’s Stage 2.  The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead will premiered Sunday, February 25, 2018, on Starz.

[Edit: The premiere reached 220,000 viewers and a slight drop from last year which can most likely be attributed to going head-to-head against The Walking Dead. 

The second episode dropped further with 171,000 viewers and shows the challenges of going up against the #1 cable rated show for the day. For perspective, The Walking Dead reached over 6 million viewers]

Content partnership with Esports Marketing Blog

TNL Esports Brand Tracker 011: Mercedes-Benz

Formula 1, golf, tennis, stadium naming rights - and now esports.

Since the end of last year, Mercedes-Benz  has sponsored not only traditional sports but also esports as a partner of ESL One. 

After the sponsorship of ESL One Hamburg in October 2017, tournament sponsorship for Mercedes-Benz continues with ESL One in Katowice this past weekend.

In the run-up to the tournament, we spoke with Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars, about the success achieved so far and the tournament in Poland.


Esports is a huge trend. As a new sponsor in esports, which opportunities do you see for Mercedes-Benz?

Jens Thiemer: First of all, esports is the perfect tool for reaching young people. It is an important piece, which is a big part in our branded entertainment initiatives. It's an enhancement for our brand in reaching and gaining enthusiasm into new target groups and therefore, I think we are very well positioned with our plan to support esports in a substantial way for the future.

How does esports sponsoring differ from traditional sports sponsoring?

Jens Thiemer: Compared to many sport structures you would consider as more traditional – take soccer, tennis or other sports – esports is much more dynamic. Esports is offering us a lot of flexibility, so we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we just act as a pure sponsor. We can act as a real partner. For me, it is one of the perfect examples for being a co-creational partner for big tournaments. We are partnering for example with ESL, which is giving us great possibilities to create real value for the target group.

The collaboration with ESL started last year in Hamburg. How were the first experiences as an esports sponsor?

Jens Thiemer: For us, this was a complete success. Per day, we were not only meeting more than ten thousand fans and of course, we were seeing millions of fans on the streaming portals, but in addition we were able to test out a new activation. We added a new thing: We call it the Mercedes MVP. We honored the best player of the tournament with the fans voting for it and in addition, it was not just the honor which was given to the player, but we also gave a completely new Mercedes-Benz car to the MVP which was highly appreciated as you can imagine.

How did the fans react to Mercedes-Benz’ sponsorship acitvities??

Jens Thiemer: We are one of the very rare companies which is not perceived as the so-called endemic sponsors in that surrounding; we are a completely new player in that field. I was absolutely positively surprised about the very positive feedback we received. I think we are partner on eye level with the esports community. It is amazing how that community gets directly in touch with new partners as us and appreciate its commitment to esports in general.

The first Dota 2 Major tournament is about to take place in Katowice, Poland. How important is this particular tournament for Mercedes-Benz?

Jens Thiemer: Katowice has been the epicentre for European esports for quite a while. That is due to the Intel Extreme Masters which was Europe’s first big esports event ever. With that tournament in the last few years, the city has been building a reputation as a place that is open to modern technology and especially also to youth culture. Katowice has established itself by hosting that tournament for quite a while. Therefore we are very proud to be an additional partner of the first Dota 2 Major tournament in this great city.

A lot of experts see esports as hype that is just beginning. Do you agree with this?

Jens Thiemer: I absolutely agree and Esports is a mass phenomenon.  You see rising figures all around the world, you see enormous prize money, you see millions of viewers on streaming portals and it's just a fascinating platform. I am convinced that one day esports will be bigger than soccer today and it has not reached its fullest potential yet. There will be many more things to come.

Content partnership with Esports Marketing Blog.

TNL Esports Brand Tracker 010: T-Mobile

TNL Take: Another big win for Activision-Blizzard's Overwatch League in securing T-Mobile as a brand partner.

T-Mobile isn't new to the space and has made several esports investments over the past few years including:

For Overwatch League, T-Mobile becomes the official wireless carrier for multiple years and will include the exclusive title sponsor of the Regular Season MVP, Finals MVP awards and branded content.