As seen in our previous Strategic Marketing In Action posts, attempting the unconventional, out-of-left-field route can yield great benefits; however, these campaigns, while as successful as they are outlandish, remain campaigns. Short-term strategy defines advertising campaigns. The fight for our attention grows more vicious as multiple industries’ marketing budgets balloon, and thus successful long-term strategy cannot stand on the weight of one campaign. Red Bull takes this route to the *ahem* “next level.”
Red Bull didn’t just sell to the professional competitive video gaming scene of eSports; they invested in its community. Since 2006, Red Bull has been sponsoring countless players, teams, and events. Red Bull realizes showering its name all over the events doesn’t work that well. Engagement must factor into equation. It’s one thing to fund money toward a cause. It’s another to pick up the nail and gather others to hammer away at the cause. That’s Red Bull here.
Red Bull developed a strategy to be synonymous with its product. Red Bull are the content creators in this case. They host and broadcast live gaming competitions that amateurs and pros can enter and win prizes as brands like Honda receive the “presented by” credit. Events like the Red Bull LAN competitions and Red Bull Battle Grounds both host competitions in the Red Bull eSports Studio in Santa Monica. The website “Red Bull eSports” combines editorials, interviews, and news from various teams, professionals, events, and game updates. The Red Bull High Performance eSports Lab, also in Santa Monica, intends to improve player performance and works as a prototype eSports coaching facility for a much larger lab.
If it sounds like Red Bull invested heavily in a growing pocket of entertainment, then you’re understating the actual capital involved. Red Bull invested $578,000,000 in eSports. A half billion dollars may not sound like much, but reconsider the amount spent as capital spent last year alone (2015).
As we said, Red Bull isn’t looking for immediate success. Long-term commitment to eSports enshrines Red Bull in a place of good will among the community. As a young, developing piece of entertainment, eSports seek validation in the mainstream consciousness of society. Organizers, professionals, and fans want eSports to penetrate the public and to be treated with as much gravitas and fanfare as other professional sports (hockey, baseball, basketball). Red Bull saw this as an opportunity to nurture the entertainment avenue toward growing to a cultural phenomenon.
And based on several statistics and live events, eSports is already a cultural phenomenon. The competitive gaming scene now boasts dozens of sold out arenas for championships and millions of viewers at home. With its growth, estimates suggest eSports events will outperform traditional sports. eSports power-player game League of Legends hosted its 2014 World Finals in the same stadium (over 45,000 tickets) as the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, that same League of Legends World Finals had a worldwide online viewership of 27 million with 11 million concurrent viewers. For comparison, the 2015 NBA Finals earned an average viewership of 18.9 million (the highest since 1998). By 2020, eSports could even tout a value of $1.8 billion.
There’s a sense of authenticity involved with Red Bull. People in the eSports community associate eSports with Red Bull much like traditional pro sports to Gatorade. The logos of both appear everywhere and are used frequently on screen, and both companies wish to improve athletes through training facilities and products. The capital and commitment of Red Bull does not go ignored. Red Bull leads the charge for legitimizing eSports, and it will pay dividends for Red Bull’s success.