The U.S. Air Force has signed a multi-tournament deal with ELeague, the e-sports league backed by Turner Broadcasting and live events firm IMG.
The Air Force will be the official armed services partner for ELeague across all platforms, and will be featured in a number of branded content integrations throughout the league’s season, with Air Force branding around the trophy presentation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Content will include a video series called “ELeague At The Base,” which provides a look into what life is like on Air Force bases, and “Tactics: Presented By Air Force,” which will highlight strategies used by players during the competition.
The Air Force joins a number of other brands that have invested marketing dollars in ELeague, including Geico, Dell and Cheez-It.
Many advertisers that usually invested in traditional sports (most of which require a substantial spend) are testing the waters on e-sports leagues, which offer an audience comprised heavily of young males, and a more attractive entry point.
Of course, marketers also need to adapt to the format. Branded content and natural integrations make for the best form of sponsorships, according to e-sports executives.
“The e-sports audience has a nose for BS. They don’t like ‘logo slaps’, but they do like value exchange with a brand,” said Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris at the recent Esports Activate conference. “This group is jaded about traditional advertising, but when there is good content that they otherwise couldn’t have—whether in the game or on YouTube or wherever the platforms may be—or some legitimate value exchange, they will promote it tremendously.”