- Campbell's Chunky, the official soup brand of the NFL, and Target are sponsoring a virtual esports tournament that looks to alleviate food insecurity among school-aged children, according to a press release. The marketers are working in partnership with nonprofit GENYOUth and CSL Esports on the event.
- With registration kicking off for Giving Tuesday today, the open-invitation Chunky Million Meals Challenge will pit contestants in several rounds of Madden NFL 21 play. The tournament starting Dec. 19 also features NFL players and Madden esports professionals, who will act as "Champions of Chunky" team captains and mentors to those who make it to the top-eight bracket.
- The Chunky Million Meals Challenge Finals scheduled for late January will be broadcast live on the NFL's official Twitch and YouTube channels. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt in-person activations and games, the tournament shows how sponsors and leagues alike are making the jump to virtual events to keep fans engaged and promote causes that are important to their organizations.
Timed around Giving Tuesday donation drives, the Chunky Million Meals Challenge shows a number of parties coming together to try and deliver 100 million meals to food-insecure children. COVID-19 has upturned marketing plans for many companies, including the types of in-person activations typically run around Giving Tuesday and the holidays. The esports tournament stands as another example of how marketers like Campbell, which is an official NFL sponsor, and Target are pivoting to virtual events to promote cause-driven initiatives and keep consumers engaged with streaming content.
Food insecurity has risen sharply among U.S. households with the economic impact delivered by the pandemic. More than 54 million people, including 18 million children, are grappling with the issue, according to estimates from Feeding America — a bleak scenario sharply illustrated by long food lines and food bank shortages around the Thanksgiving holiday. Throughout the Chunky Million Meals Challenge, viewers will be encouraged to donate to GENYouth, and the drive will receive additional support from America's Dairy Farmers, Doritos and Bose, according to the press release.
With many traditional media channels disrupted by COVID-19, esports are climbing higher on the agenda for marketers. Engagement with video games, including watching others play games professionally, has risen sharply among people stuck at home, and brands are closely following suit. Campbell's Chunky has invested more resources in gaming, partnering with EA Sports, Madden's publisher, on branded gear and challenges related to the franchise.
Rather than host a one-off event, Campbell, Target and their partners are also turning the Chunky Million Meals Challenge into a weeks-long affair that will complement the NFL playoffs and run-up to the Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 7. Open qualifiers later this month will lead into a livestreamed draft where the top eight contestants will work with Madden pros and NFL athletes on their strategies. The finals will then air live on Twitch and YouTube in late January.
Marketers and sports leagues have been experimenting more with livestreamed content on platforms like Twitch as ratings take a hit and more consumers cut the cord for good. The NFL will air a Dec. 26 matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers on Twitch rather than national TV, Variety reported. The league is also making the Pro Bowl a virtual Madden 21 showdown next year after the annual all-star game was canceled over COVID-19 concerns.