- Coca-Cola signed a multiyear entitlement partnership with e-NASCAR, the esports arm of the car racing association, the company revealed in a press release.
- The beverage giant will be the title sponsor on e-NASCAR's iRacing Series, which has been renamed to reflect the sponsorship: eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. The new contract comes after Coca-Cola sponsored the series last year.
- NASCAR's Cup Series kicks off its 11th season on Feb. 11. This year's race comes with a $300,000 prize, an increase over last year. The event will be broadcast live on NBCSN.
Esports is surging in popularity among consumers, and big brands such as Coca-Cola are jumping at the opportunity to attach their names to the category in order to reach the growing fan base.
NASCAR reports that its esports audience is growing, although the sports organization did not provide specific numbers. "The audience surge and growth our e-NASCAR platforms experienced in 2019 was the result of the most talented gamers delivering some of the best weeknight racing," said NASCAR SVP and chief digital officer Tim Clark said in a statement.
With more consumers engaged in watching esports, brands are taking notice and investing in ads to reach these audiences. Esports ad revenues are projected to reach $200 million this year in the U.S. alone, eMarketer forecasts. Globally, brand investment in esports will total $795 million this year, up 23.1%, with $584 million going to sponsorships and $211 million to ad breaks, per a recent study from marketing intelligence firm WARC.
Coca-Cola follows other brands that have ramped up their offerings in the growing esports space. Mars' Snickers candy brand announced in December it would gear up its promotional activity within the category as the presenting sponsor of the Madden NFL 20 Club Championship, an esports tournament hosted by video game maker Electronic Arts, which came with a $700,000 prize. As part of the deal, Snickers was featured in highlight packages and branded studio segments during the tournament on Twitch, YouTube and the ESPN mobile app.
Brands like Snickers and Coca-Cola see an opportunity to get relevant content in front of esports fans, as research suggests Gen Z, esports' primary audience, is more interested in snacking than older demographics. A study by the Institute of Food Technologies found that 74% of Gen Z consumers say they often snack between meals, pointing to why brands like Coca-Cola and Snickers are vying to establish themselves in the esports world.