- Mastercard commemorated the 10th anniversary of the "League of Legends" World Championship with digital experiences, a capsule collection and in-game goods, the company announced.
- The "Digital Priceless Experiences" include workshops and meet-and-greets featuring pro players, streamers and on-air talent. The capsule collection features a cloak, T-shirt, duffel bag and puzzle. Both were available on priceless.com starting on Oct. 31. The promotion also featured the limited release of in-game digital Riot Points that were available over a 10-hour period.
- This is the latest esports activation from Mastercard, which became the first global sponsor of "League of Legends" in 2018. The brand was the presenting sponsor of the opening ceremonies of the "League of Legends" World Championship, which took place Sep. 25 to Oct. 31 in Shanghai, China.
Offering both in-game and real-world prizes, Mastercard's promotion around the "League of Legends" World Championship illustrates how brands can extend their value into the online space. As is typical for the brand's strategy, the experiences are intended to appeal to the audience's core passion.
"When Mastercard delivers experiences that people are passionate about, we see unequivocal joy and excitement among our consumers, and the passion League of Legends esports fans have for the game is undeniable," said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, in a statement.
Making the experiences digital follows the brand's earlier moves during the first months of the pandemic, when it took its Priceless Experiences online. The addition of a capsule collection follows brands including Dunkin', Bud Light, Sprite, Popeyes and General Mills that have released clothing to fashion themselves as lifestyle brands, while the in-game goods allow for an even deeper integration.
The esports space is an intriguing one for marketers. Global advertising spending in the sector is expected to top $800 million this year. Sponsorship alone was projected to grow by nearly 10%, according to WARC. However, the audience is notoriously wary of inauthenticity when it comes to sponsorships.
In light of that, Mastercard has said that it takes a lighter approach to its esports sponsorship, compared to its presence in other sports, in an effort to avoid a sense of overcommercialization. To walk that line, the brand shipped loot boxes to streamers with minimal branding and ensured transparency at all levels of its promotions. The brand also created on-site activations for the World Championships in past years. With that possibility unavailable during this year's pandemic, the brand has had to move more of its Priceless promotions online.
"The brand has to be visible. We cannot go dark," Rajamannar said earlier this year about the brand's marketing approach during the pandemic.