While much can be said about the merits of “e-sports,” or competitive video gaming, there’s no denying it’s a growth industry. By one estimate, the global e-sports market will generate revenue of $1.1 billion, which may not seem a huge amount taken at face value, but growth is expected to shoot up 26.7 percent from last year. A lot of this money and growth is the result of brand investments such as media rights, advertising and sponsorship. It’s suddenly occurring to a lot of brands that e-sports are a great way to reach economically advantaged and tech-savvy young people.
Honda is one of those brands. The Japanese automaker is pumping more marketing dollars into competitive video gaming to protect its status as the dominant carmaker among young, first-time buyers, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. At a time when other carmakers are struggling to connect with younger buyers, Honda believes it has found a niche in e-sports.
“These younger audiences that we’re trying to reach really prefer esports and social media over more traditional media,” Phil Hruska, manager of media strategy at American Honda, told the LA Times. “We look at these deals as a social media platform, which is a great evolution of where the eyeballs are going.”
For first-time car buyers, the Honda HR-V, Honda Fit and Honda Civic consistently show up at the top of the purchase list, thanks in part to aggressive and savvy marketing that Honda engages in with younger shoppers.
Honda recently announced that it’s becoming the official automaker of Riot Games Inc.’s League of Legends Championship Series, one of North America’s biggest esports leagues. The alliance comes only eight months after Honda signed a partnership with Team Liquid, a three-time league champion. The 2018 League of Legends World Finals attracted nearly 100 million viewers, which represents 20 million more viewers than the 2017 championships. The event had a prize pool of $6 million.
The partnership between Honda and Riot Games will launch this weekend with the league’s Summer Split playoffs in Los Angeles. In part, it will involve the creation of custom content focusing on the league’s top players.