- PepsiCo's Mtn Dew soft drink brand and pizza chain Papa John's on Thursday sponsored a livestreamed video game contest between pro basketball player Jamal Murray and gaming celebrity Dr DisRespect. The two faced off in the "Power Up, Play On!" showdown on YouTube, per an announcement.
- During the match, Murray and Dr DisRespect revealed the Mtn Dew x Papa John's game controller, which has a button that lets gamers order their favorite pizza or Papadia sandwich without stepping away from their console. The piece of hardware will be available to gamers next year, with further information to come on Mtn Dew and Papa John's social channels.
- Papa John's also introduced the "Power Up, Play On!" menu bundle that includes two Papadia sandwiches and Mtn Dew for $15. Gamers can order the combination at Papa John's stores and at its website. Mtn Dew and Papa John's will have more video game-related promotions next year, another sign that marketers are looking to build out their foothold in a category that's boomed under the pandemic.
Mtn Dew and Papa John's "Power Up, Play On!" livestream offers another instance of brands developing promotions that bring together personalities from traditional sports and video games to boost awareness among a broader audience. The match pitted Jamal Murray, who plays in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets, against Dr DisRespect, the online persona of Herschel "Guy" Beahm IV, who has 3.2 million subscribers on YouTube.
With more homebound people watching video game livestreams and esports tournaments during the pandemic, Mtn Dew and Papa John's angled to reach viewers who are either long-time gaming fans or who started watching gaming-related programming in the absence of live sports. Campbell Soup and Target are adopting a similar approach in their sponsorship of a virtual gaming tournament centered around Madden NFL 21. The free-to-enter Chunky Million Meals Challenge commences Dec. 19, and players have the chance to be mentored by esports professionals and NFL athletes. The tournament will stream on the NFL's Twitch and YouTube and run through the end of January.
The Papa John's and Mtn Dew tie-up is also notable for introducing a novelty game controller that lets people order pizza from Papa John's without disengaging from their gaming sessions. The novelty device for gamers is reminiscent of the specialized gaming headset that snack brand Pringles introduced last year to feed its stackable potato crisps into a wearer's mouth. The limited-edition headset was developed as part of a promotional tie-in with Xbox Game Studios on the launch of its hit game "Gears 5."
Novelty game gear has become even bigger this year as brands seek to tap into the massive publicity that Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox have generated with the introduction of their first gaming consoles in seven years. Because of the pandemic's disruptions to global supply chains, the companies haven't been able to keep up with demand among holiday shoppers. Amid the heightened interest in the gaming platforms, Bud Light last month rolled out a novelty game console that's insulated to keep beer cold, while Kraft Heinz's Philadelphia Cream Cheese launched a campaign for its Philly Series 5 kit, a mock console the brand cheekily described as a "stunning advancement in cheesecake technology."