Surekha Ragavan
Apr 24, 2020

BMW banks on esports to be relevant among younger demographic

New global partnerships signal an aggressive push for the brand to appear ‘younger’.

BMW banks on esports to be relevant among younger demographic

Last week, BMW announced a partnership with five global esports organisations: Funplus Phoenix (China), Cloud 9 (US), Fnatic (UK), G2 Esports (Germany) and T1 (South Korea). Each group has up to 200 players to battle it out at League of Legends, of which BMW is already a partner. But why has a non-endemic brand like BMW decided to invest so aggressively in esports?

Chirstopher Keonig, spokesperson for BMW’s esports brand and marketing, told Campaign Asia that the partnerships enable the brand to “make a younger and more modern impact”.

“BMW wants to be perceived as a global and credible partner in the esports sector. This global commitment allows us to expand our communication activities in sports sponsorship. We can implement new creative approaches and interact with a new target group,” he said.

The monetary value of the partnerships are undisclosed but Keonig said that on top of money, each team will receive cars for their organisations. “We don’t comment on time and budget details for partnership, generally speaking, but this will be a long-term one,” said Keonig.

It might be curious that the partnership was announced in the middle of a pandemic but esports engagement has been unaffected if not rising. However, Keonig clarified that the timing was merely a coincidence.

“We ourselves still feel that the current situation is very volatile and uncertain, but we nevertheless decided to announce our commitment. The contracts had already been signed in 2019 before the coronavirus crisis and we already had to postpone the announcement due to the global situation,” he said.

Adrian Staiti, APAC managing director at Lagardère Sports, told Campaign Asia that the deal not only develops BMW’s market advantage, it also showcases them as a brand that understands design and innovation.

“[BMW] steers clear of the usual consumer engagement journey most prestigious brands might take and willingly embed themselves within the very environment. Known to be the best-kept secret for brands to connect with the new generation of consumers, there is no doubt that esports is able to create relevance and access for BMW to younger audiences,” said Staiti.

“BMW will get to enjoy exceptional levels of brand exposure while cultivating a brand preference among younger audiences through bespoke content creation and meaningful social engagement opportunities with T1 fans – who are some of the most passionate fans in the world. At the same time, T1 will also gain access to world-class technology and design.”

Lagardère Sports facilitated the partnership between T1 and BMW.