- Unilever men's grooming brand Axe has partnered with esports content and tournament provider Eleague, which is a partnership of Turner Sports and talent agency IMG, according to a press release.
- Axe will be the official personal care partner of Eleague. One of the first activations will take place April 5-8, when Axe will sponsor the first-ever Eleague x Rocket League Game Zone, which will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center as part of the Final Four Fan Fest presented by Capital One.
- Eleague and Axe will work on marketing programs across TV, digital and social media, as well as on-site during gaming competitions. Custom content is also part of the deal, including "You're Hotter When You're Chill presented by Axe," a series of conversations with players that will be integrated in live and on-demand coverage.
Unilever's Axe is the latest men's-focused brand to jump on the esports trend in an effort to connect with younger male audiences, who have been harder to reach via traditional ad formats. Amazon's Twitch platform, an early esports offering, has been the focus of much of the marketing partnerships in this space to date. Eleague, with backing from a talent agency and major traditional sports broadcaster, has been ramping up its tournaments and clearly sees an opportunity to attract brands.
Axe is likely attracted to the growing esports audience, with 30.3 million people expected to watch an esports event at least once a month in 2019, an 18% increase over last year, according to eMarketer. Esports ad revenue is expected to surpass $200 million by 2020.
Brands targeting young men clearly see esports as an opportunity to reach their core audience. Among Gen Z males, aged 13-21, more than half spend more time following nontraditional sports than traditional media, according to sports media brand Whistle. Most of these consumers welcome marketing messages in nontraditional sports, with 57% saying it's important for companies to sponsor, advertise and support the sports they watch.
Rival men's grooming brand Gillette, from Procter & Gamble, recently announced a partnership with live streaming video platform Twitch on the Gillette Gaming Alliance, a team of global streamers who will create content for the brand. The campaign, "Bits for Blades," was giving fans the chance to win virtual currency to support streamers when they purchase Gillette products displayed and discussed by team members. Viewers could purchase the products on Amazon by clicking on a Gillette banner.