- Coca-Cola's e-commerce store is selling specially marked bottles for $5 apiece that show characters from Overwatch League, the professional esports league for Blizzard Entertainment's team-based videogame "Overwatch," which Marketing Dive learned after seeing a display ad for the customized bottles. The "Share a Coke with" slogan appears on the bottles followed by an icon of one of the league's teams, such as the Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Chengdu Hunters, Dallas Fuel, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior and Washington Justice.
- In February, Coca-Cola signed on with The Overwatch League as the official beverage partner going into the 2019 season, joining other non-endemic esports sponsors such as Toyota and T-Mobile. The deal gave Coke exclusivity with all 20 teams in the league, ESPN reported.
- Overwatch League will host its 2019 Grand Finals on Sept. 29 in Philadelphia, offering a cash prize of $1.1 million and a championship trophy. The finals will be livestreamed on Twitch and broadcast on ABC at 3 p.m. EDT. Viewers also can see it on the ESPN app, overwatcleague.com and the Overwatch League app, per its website.
Offering Overwatch League bottles on the Coca-Cola Store site and using digital ads to drive awareness of the bottles in advance of the league's finals is likely to drive traffic to the site, increase e-commerce and, perhaps most importantly, provide Coca-Cola with valuable customer data related to esports fans. Esports sponsorships help non-endemic brands to reach a younger audience that is less likely to watch traditional sports. Twenty-two percent of people ages 21-35 watch esports frequently, more than the 16% who watch hockey and almost equaling baseball's viewership, Newzoo said in a 2016 report.
The push behind the Coca-Cola Store is in line with efforts by other large consumer packaged goods manufacturers to beef up their e-commerce plays. These efforts are coming at a time when data's role in marketing continues to grow as are concerns around the data practices of large digital platforms and various third parties.
Coca-Cola launched e-commerce site shareacoke.com in 2015 and sold more than 1 million personalized bottles in 18 months. The brand has since merged several e-commerce programs into the Coke Store, where a variety of licensed merchandise and customized bottles are available.
Coke has a history of creating special packaging to support its esports sponsorships. Last month, Coca-Cola Turkey introduced "League of Legends" labeling with codes to unlock credits for videogame content. Two years ago, Coke for the first time sponsored an in-game virtual athlete for the EA Sports videogame "FIFA 18," making a lighthearted reference to its famous "Mean" Joe Greene ad from 1979.
Coca-Cola archrival PepsiCo also has been active in esports sponsorships. The company's Mtn Dew and Doritos brands are sponsoring the Mtn Dew Amp Game Celebrity Pro-Am tournament for "Call of Duty," the first-person shooter game made by Activision Blizzard, on Sept. 14. PepsiCo has worked with Activision Blizzard to promote new videogame titles, including the Doritos Bowl tournament for "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" at the last TwitchCon annual convention. Mtn Dew last year introduced its "Amp Game Fuel," a brand extension aimed at gamers, with the kickoff to the 2019 Call of Duty World League (CWL) esports series in December.