Non-endemic brand involvement is one of the largest revenue growth opportunities for esports. At the moment, it’s also one of the hardest to crack. Here’s how DHL got their partnership so right.
One of the unlikeliest parts of the DOTA 2 tournament at ESL One Birmingham 2018 was the shouts of “DHL, DHL, DHL” from the waiting crowd. Unlike the relative indifference which most of the other sponsor logos was met with, DHL’s presence at the event was greeted with genuine enthusiasm.
The reason for the gaming love for an international courier, parcel, and express mail company? The DHL Effibot.
Rather than simply slapping their logo on a couple of screens and promo materials, handing over their cheques and scarpering, DHL bothered to get to know esports. And in doing so, they set the benchmark for non-endemic brand partnerships.
ESL’s campaign featured content creator Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner cast as an employee at an “interdimensional” DHL facility that serves both the physical and video game worlds, complete with an in-game version of DHL’s automated warehouse robot, EffiBOT. DHL also created multiple entertaining storylines within the esports world that combined esports memes that fans love with DHL’s products and services.
DHL also had its EffiBOT on-hand for an onsite appearance and video shoot with Kanner, amidst other activations. According to Kristina Müller, head of strategic partnerships at ESL, “Birmingham was only a really small introduction of what was possible.”
“The community loved it, which is the most important part, right? The community loved the integration, and it had a lot of very positive feedback,” said Johannes Schiefer, vice president of social and editorial at ESL. “In that sense, I’d say that DHL realized that they could trust us with even a little bit off-the-wall, or not directly intuitive ideas of being creative in how we integrate them into the world of Dota.”
Invest in esports properly (not just money) and your brand, too, can have this kind of return on investment.