Hershey is gravitating toward opportunities in esports

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The Hershey Company is looking to reach non-traditional audiencesthrough esports, per Digiday. Hershey has traditionally allocated the bulk of its media spend to traditional TV advertising, but it’s increasingly diversifying its media spend beyond traditional TV and into more digital spaces. The esports phenomenon has opened up a channel to reach hundreds of millions of eyeballs worldwide.

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Hershey is increasingly investing in esports as it looks to tap into audiences its traditional buys likely miss — in particular millennial and Gen Z males under age 25. Hershey decided to ramp up its commitment to the fast-growing space after seeing younger audiences flock to streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube to engage with gamers live-streaming their sessions.

Twitch, the No.1 streaming site for gamers, touts15 million unique daily visitors, and over 2.2 million creators who live stream their gameplay. The global esports audience is projected to hit600 million by 2023 — up from 281 million just three years ago, per Business Insider Intelligence estimates. And revenue will rise with it: Global esports revenue is forecasted to reach$2.96billion by 2022, up from $869 million in 2018.

There are three primary methods for brands to advertise in esports:

  • Event sponsorships. While brands can reach esports viewers by advertising on streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, they can also reach millions of esports event attendees and viewers by sponsoring major live competitions. For instance,200million viewers tuned into the League of Legends World Championship in 2018 — nearly double the number that watched the Super Bowl that year, which clocked in atabout 98 million viewers. That same event sold 23,000 tickets in under four hours, with game owner Riot releasing an additional 3,000 to meet the overwhelming demand.
  • Direct advertising on sites like Twitch. Many brands have taken to running ads on alongside gaming content on the top video streaming platforms for live gameplay. For instance, Wendy’s designed aninteractive ad-campaign which ran on Twitch, and Nike has even debuted new shoes on the site.
  • Influencer brand partnerships. Gaming influencersinspire intense trust and loyalty among their followings: If a gaming influencer recommends hardware, their fans are likely to purchase that gear, and if they recommend food or eat something while playing, their fans might also follow suit. In fact, Hershey’s first foray into esports was apartnership with top gamers “Ninja” ( 5 million Twitch followers), and “DrLupo” ( 3.4 million Twitch followers) to launch its Reese’s Pieces candy bar at gamer event TwitchCon (likeComic-Con, but for video games). Likewise, Axepartnered with “Cizzorz” — part of the popular FazeClan esports team — to run a promotional contest where fans could upload a live-action clip of themselves gaming to Instagram or Twitter and be entered to win a feature on the gamer’s channel and the opportunity to attend VidCon with him.

As the global esports market explodes, I expect opportunities for brand partnerships and advertisements to trace a similar path. And it’s likely that brands get increasingly creative with their attempts to win a piece of the space. Already, brands like Kellogg — which launched a newcereal dubbed “Lucio-Oh’s,” based on a popularOverwatchcharacter — are experimenting with their approaches to the gaming world.

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