It's no secret anymore-eSports has reached a level of legitimacy. Brands are rapidly seeking out any opportunity to sink their toes into the shiny eSports sand.
The annals of sports marketing history are rife with brand crises brought about by spokesperson scandals and inappropriate conduct. Go back just a few weeks for the swift eradication of multiple brand relationships with Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for the latest in a long line of challenges. "Athletes gone bad" is certainly nothing new for sports marketers. Morals clauses have become standard practice for endorsement contracts.
This past week, ESPN published Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg's remarks on Call of Duty's eSports efforts. He attributes much success to the pro players - "They give you the momentum of a story: a beginning, middle and end. Those narratives are what fuel an interest in sports. People love watching the best players in the world play the game they love."
Let's take a look at what we can take away from the 2016 Rio games and what it tells us about the direction of sports marketing and media.
In a spring and summer filled with the Olympics, presidential conventions, Pokemon Go, Brett Favre's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, LeBron James leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title and the return of Guns N' Roses, it takes some marketing moxie to stand out from the crowd.
When a game is in full swing, no other brand can match a sports club for fan engagement. But as football legend Emmitt Smith wisely said, winning isn't about one moment; it's about every moment.
We are in the midst of what some bill as the greatest spectacle in all of sports. Sports and research are both my vocation and avocation. Why, then, don't I care about the Olympics?
You can't flip on a TV for more than 30 minutes without seeing some kind of Twitter integration, and it feels like practically every blog post these days has at least one Tweet embedded. On top of that, Twitter is the de facto social network for live commentary, giving it a sort of reciprocal relationship with live broadcast with no remuneration to Twitter.
When the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rio begin with the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5 (although soccer starts two days earlier), it won't be hard for people to find sports competition, and it will be equally hard to avoid the necessary evil of marketing that accompanies the Games.
Twenty-seven million championship game viewers. $11+ million in prize money. Screaming fans. Overflowing arenas.