- BMW signed on to sponsor five of the world's leading esports teams, the company revealed in a press release.
- The sponsorship will cover Cloud 9 (U.S.), Fnatic (U.K.), Funplus Phoenix (China), G2 Esports (Germany) and T1 (South Korea), which each have about 200 players that compete in the League of Legends.
- Marketing across the team will include the mottoes "United in Rivalry" and "United at Home." BMW will also promote esports through technology and worked with the teams to design team vehicles. The #unitedinrivalry hashtag will be used by teams and fans on social channels and streaming platforms to build friendly rivalry across teams before tournaments.
BMW's presence in the growing world of esports is undergoing a "major expansion," per the company, as it looks to drive engagement with a new generation of potential customers around the world. The timing of the ramp up in esports during the coronavirus pandemic isn't a coincidence, with esports an example of how sports entertainment can continue at a time when live sporting events are canceled, per the company.
"Esports shows us how sports entertainment can continue to thrive and play a key role considering today's challenges. Our entry into esports is motivated by a commitment to become a sustainable, global partner, supporting the teams and the discipline as a whole, before, during and after these times of uncertainty," Jens Thiemer, SVP of customer and brand at BMW, said in a statement.
The brand's goal is to use its design and innovation skills to help shape the discipline while working toward a deeper integration with the esports community. The company also hopes to turn the teams it's sponsoring into household names within the general sports and entertainment industry as it looks to introduce esports to a broader audience.
"We consider esports a promising, growing addition to our marketing activities, helping BMW on its journey to becoming an emotive brand people relate to," Thiemer said.
BMW began sponsoring esports in 2017, when the company signed on as the official partner of the European League of Legends finals in Paris, per the press release. In 2019, the German carmaker sponsored the BMW SIM LIVE premiere at BMW Welt in Munich.
The esports sector has been on the upswing for years, attracting a wide variety of consumers from countries around the globe to both virtual and in-person events. Last year, the League of Legends World Championship Finals, which was held in the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, garnered a global digital audience of 44 million people who viewed the livestream at home, per BMW.
Esports ad revenues have also been on the rise, with ad sales estimated to reach $200 million this year in the U.S. alone, according to an eMarketer report from last year. As coronavirus lockdowns continue and in-person sports are canceled, esports has an opportunity to grow even larger by reaching bored consumers stuck at home.
BMW joins other brands including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Kellogg Snack Brands and Coca-Cola, which recently signed a multiyear entitlement partnership with e-NASCAR, who are also increasing marketing activities around esports.