- Zenni announced a sponsorship deal that makes the direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand the official eyewear of the Houston Outlaws and Pittsburgh Knights esports teams. Zenni also renewed its partnership with the Golden Guardians and Lux Gaming, per an announcement.
- The brand unveiled @Zenni_Gaming accounts on Twitter and Instagram to promote esports events, giveaways and branded products. Those limited-edition offerings include the favorite eyewear of Outlaws and Knights players and team-branded designs. The accounts will showcase "gameday looks" for the players and key moments from their video game matches, per the announcement.
- Zenni plans to resume its on-site activations when live gaming events start up again. The company plans to build its roster of influencers with the support of the Knights and Wiz Khalifa, the rapper who last year began a marketing partnership with the team that includes live events.
Zenni's expanded sponsorships of professional esports teams indicate their significance in its strategy of reaching the growing audience for video game tournaments. The brand last year first waded into esports by partnering with the Golden Guardians, an esports affiliate of the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Adding the Houston Outlaws, Pittsburgh Knights and Lux Gaming to its roster indicates that Zenni has seen positive results from its affiliations with esports events.
While the coronavirus pandemic has led to cancellation of esports events at stadiums and other venues, esports organizations like Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League have responded by arranging for their matches to be livestreamed on video platforms.
Zenni's rollout of social media accounts to highlight its esports affiliations can help to reach audiences that have been prevented from attending live events where Zenni has out-of-home (OOH) activations. With sports leagues suspending operations and fans staying indoors during pandemic lockdowns, the online audience for gaming content on social networks and livestreaming platforms has soared. Viewership of livestreaming platforms surged 43% to about 495 million hours in the week of March 29 from the beginning of 2020, according to Stream Hatchet data cited by Reuters. Twitch, the livestreaming platform owned by Amazon, last month experienced a 60% jump to more than 1.3 billion hours watched, per data compiled by Nielsen's Superdata.
Zenni's sponsorship announcement comes as other brands ramp up their esports promotions to connect with those growing audiences. This week, The Kellogg Company's Cheez-It and Pringles snack brands launched a sweepstakes for fans of Overwatch League that includes a free trip to its championship tournament, which has yet to be scheduled, and team jerseys. Energy drink G Fuel last month expanded its partnership with esports group FaZe Clan to collaborate on talent, content, retail distribution, apparel and merchandise.