- Honda is increasing its commitment to esports, becoming the exclusive automotive sponsor of the Riot Games League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), according to a press release. Along with its prior sponsorship of LCS champion Team Liquid, Honda becomes the first North American automaker to sponsor both an esports team and league.
- In addition to visibility for playoffs and finals, the partnership includes sponsorship of the League MVP, the LCS Scouting Grounds tournament for up and coming League of Legends players and custom content about the League top players, plus access to ad inventory on LCS game days.
- The custom content includes four new 15-second videos intended to inspire viewers to "find their drive," featuring players Doublelift, Hungrybox and Vivid and Team Liquid Co-CEO Steve Arhancet in custom 2019 Honda Civics. The videos will run on Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and within the inventory offered by the LCS sponsorship.
As with other brands backing esports, this new effort is designed by Honda to deepen its connections with millennial and Gen Z customers. League of Legends says it has the top esports viewership in North America, boasting 1.1 million average daily unique viewers and 26 million hours of viewing during the full 2018 season, according to the press release.
In 2018, the combined audience for esports on YouTube and Twitch was bigger than the combined viewership of HBO, Netflix and ESPN. In total, esports will reach 380 million viewers this year, with a 14% growth rate year-over-year, per consultancy NJ Games. By putting 15-second videos on Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and within "League of Legends" will help Honda get in front of these viewers.
Honda has been in the esports and video gaming space since 2014. Since then, it has sponsored EA's first NHL World Championship, partnered with Team Liquid and teamed with Twitch to create the Honda Head 2 Head program. The new sponsorship demonstrates the brand's growing commitment to marketing itself in the esports arena.
Esports are big these days for brands looking to connect with younger consumers. In March, Nissan became the first automaker to sponsor the FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming teams. This week, Burger King partnered with the same FaZe Clan for a promotion where team members livestreamed a guest appearance by Burger King's mascot, The King.
Also in March, AT&T became the founding sponsor of a mobile esports league called ESL Mobile Open. In July, Wendy's promoted the launch of its Baconfest with a live stream of its digital avatar playing the hit video game "Fortnite," during which it offered thousands of free sandwiches to viewers. Earlier this week, the woman-first social networking app Bumble teamed up with esports organization Gen.G to form an all-female esports team.