- The Kellogg Company's Cheez-It and Pringles snack brands this month launched a sweepstakes for fans of Overwatch League, the first professional esports group started by a unit of video game giant Activision Blizzard. The packaged foods company set up a microsite for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2020 Overwatch Grand Finals, per an announcement.
- Cheez-It and Pringles are also giving away 250 jerseys from Overwatch League teams to fans who enter the contest in the next few weeks. Contestants must buy specially marked packages of Cheez-It Grooves and Pringles Wavy snacks by April 30, and upload their purchase receipts to the website up to five times a day by May 14. Mail-in entries must be postmarked by April 30.
- Kellogg will pick winners in a random drawing on May 15. The 2020 Overwatch Grand Finals will be held in a major city, though the exact location and date haven't been determined, per the contest rules.
The Kellogg Company's collaboration with Overwatch League on a sweepstakes aims to connect with the growing audience for esports, despite the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. While sports like basketball, hockey and soccer involve physical contact among players, esports allow for gameplay that complies with social distancing. That difference allows esports organizations to host matches as professional sports leagues suspend operations. While Overwatch League canceled its live events for April and May to avoid packing fans together in an arena, it has continued to host virtual matches among its 20 teams for fans to livestream on YouTube Gaming. Chipotle Mexican Grill this month made a similar move in transforming its Challenger Series real-world gaming tournament into a virtual event.
For the esports industry, the pandemic has led to a surge in viewing events online, though monetization has become more challenging as many marketers suspend, delay or cancel ad campaigns. Twitch, the livestreaming platform owned by Amazon, hit a record 1.1 billion hours watched last month, per data cited by The Wrap. Rival livestreaming platforms for gamers also saw big gains. Facebook Gaming viewership jumped 20% in Q1 from the prior quarter, while YouTube Gaming rose 13% during that period, per data from analytics firm StreamHatchet cited by The Hollywood Reporter. However, brands like Chipotle, Chupa Chups and Subaru that advertise among esports events have taken a "light-touch approach" to their sponsorships, Digiday reported.
By running a sweepstakes for Overwatch League fans, Kellogg aims to reach a growing audience of younger consumers. Overwatch League last year was the only organization among professional sports leagues to see gains in average minutes watched by the key 18- to 34-year-old demographic group coveted by advertisers, per data cited by OverActive Media, an owner of esports teams. That age group overlaps with the 74% of Gen Zers who say they often snack between meals, a study by the Institute of Food Technologies found. To reach that audience, Kellogg's Pringles brand last year ran a campaign with gaming influencers on Twitch to showcase its novelty gaming headset that included a swivel arm that automatically fed the brand's stackable potato chips into a wearer's mouth.
Pringles and Cheez-It are among the snack and beverage brands that have developed campaigns aimed at esports fans in the past year. Energy drink G Fuel last month expanded its partnership with esports group FaZe Clan to collaborate on talent, content, retail distribution, apparel and merchandise. Coca-Cola in February signed a deal with e-NASCAR, the esports arm of the car racing association, to be the title sponsor of its iRacing Series. PepsiCo's Mtn Dew and Doritos labels in September sponsored a livestreamed event that built on the publicity for the release of Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."