Staff Reporters
Aug 23, 2019

How Mindshare helped KFC take on e-sports with AI

CASE STUDY: Using AI to engage League of Legends gamers saw KFC's stock rise dramatically in China.

How Mindshare helped KFC take on e-sports with AI

Background

KFC has made the gamer community a core pillar of its communications in China since 2015. Four years on, gaming has become a serious sport in China.

  • Valued at US$1.25 billion in 2018
  • Projected to grow to US$3 billion by 2020
  • 24% YoY growth rate for audiences aged 16 to 30
    (Sources: CCTV and China National Resident Survey)

Aim

With gaming getting more serious, KFC needed to move away from the sidelines of sponsorship and into deeper engagement with gamers. The aim was to make KFC an integral part of League of Legends, the world’s most popular e-Sport game with roughly 111 million players in China alone (Source: Laoyuegou).

In e-sports, real-time performance data is vital for an audience to truly understand the current situation, as well as crucial for gamers to analyse their performance versus their competitors, allowing them to develop and refine their future strategy.

Strategy

E-sports games, like League of Legends, have exponentially more numbers than a typical game of football or basketball. With all of these numbers churned out in real time, fans and sports commentators are often forced to rely on gut feel to anticipate who will win a match.

Enter Colonel KI (KFC-AI)—KFC’s AI algorithm for predicting League of Legend winners. KFC partnered with data company PentaQ to create an algorithm based on all historical data and real-time data for each team. The algorithm, in the form of Colonel KI, was capable of giving out real-time predictions on who would win a match based on game stats.

KFC added value from start to finish, as all gamers and fans could track the predictions before, during and after the matches.

Execution

Colonel KI’s predictions were featured on the actual game screen. He appeared at the beginning of each game and also during every break to give predictions.

During the most exciting moments of the game, Colonel KI distributed KFC coupons to fans – inviting the audience to order KFC online and have fried chicken while enjoying the game. 

To ensure KFC did not miss out on the mobile aspect of the gaming journey— League of Legends is played in a desktop environment but gamers socialise on mobile—we created a HTML 5 version of Colonel KI’s winning predictions, housed on KFC’s mobile app. We also created mobile-only coupons for hungry gamers.

Results

By creating Colonel KI and turning it into the new League of Legends icon, KFC gained 70 minutes of brand exposure per day, bringing the brand to over 203 million (peak number of viewers) viewers of the League of Legends livestreams.

More than 1.9 million on-screen comments (scrolling text during matches) specific to KFC were generated.

On Weibo, KFC topic views reached 35 million organically – 2x more than the most viewed Weibo topic from 2018’s FIFA World Cup brand sponsors.

This achievement is significant in a market like China where Weibo’s top topics tend to be dominated by celebrity news. No other League of Legends sponsor scored a trending topic on Weibo.

CREDITS

YUM China
Lynn Zhang, director
Jetty Zhu, manager
Clare Zhang, director 

Mindshare
Bolin Wang, MD
Carey Wang, GM
Yi Liu, partner
Stanley Tao, partner
Erika Lin, director
Kathy Ren, manager
Jessia Zhu, supervisor 

Phil So, head of BD, Riot Games
Yue Wang, head of BD, Tencent IEG
Xi Qing, CEO, PentaQ

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