In recent years, esports has grown from a subculture to pop culture, reaching $947.1 million in revenue with 435.9 million viewers in 2020 – more than the audiences of rugby and golf. This growth is a signal to brands that they should pay more attention to the esports community.
In support of our upcoming whitepaper on esports in Vietnam, Vero recently held three online workshops on the OnMic platform, in partnership with Advertising Vietnam and OnMic. These were a series of talk shows featuring professionals from the advertising/ marketing industry and guests from the Vietnamese esports community. Respectively titled “Myths of Esports,” “Working with Esports Stars,” and “How Can Brand Bridge The Gap Through Esports?”, each workshop was followed by a Q&A session in which attendees had the opportunity to learn more about this emerging industry from those who know it best. These workshops are part of the preparation for the launching of our esports whitepaper, which will be released soon in October 2021.
The workshops received a highly positive response from the local gaming community and media. To learn what all the fuss is about, read on for recaps of each workshop.
Esports Workshop #1: “Myths of Esports”
When it comes to “myths” about esports, the most-asked question is whether esports is a “real” sport at all. In our first workshop, Mr. Do Viet Hung – General Secretary of Vietnam Recreational E-Sports Association (VIRESA), affirmed that esports is now considered an official sport in many countries. This includes Vietnam, where esports has joined other 40 sports to compete at the SEA Games 31. In addition, the 2022 ASEAN Games have officially selected esports as medaled events. This is a big step for the esports community since the ASIAD 2018 event, when esports was only a performing act.
Ms. Trinh Quynh Mai, an advisor at Decision Lab, pointed out that a third of Vietnam’s population currently participates in esports, and more adults are now fans of the sport (47% of the fan community are aged 30 and above). This goes against the typical misconception that esports is only for young people.
Mr. Do Viet Hung emphasized that participating in esports at semi-professional and professional levels require different lifestyles, with pro play involving training, goal management, and personal orientation. Professional esports players have training schedules just like any sports athlete. For esports fans and non-pro players, just like many other sports, they need to moderate their leisure activities.
Mr. Vu-Quan Nguyen Masse, Brand & Culture Director at Vero, also shared more on esports culture to answer the question of whether esports is still a niche activity. According to him, we can expect esports to grow in line with other internationally recognized sports such as the NBA. Just like other sports, the consumers of the industry have their favorite players and teams, and they can be players themselves. In terms of characters, there are esports stars and influencers in the community. In terms of inclusion, each team also has branded merchandise of their own such as T-shirts and caps. Vu-Quan concluded by saying he believes that the esports industry will continue to grow very fast.
Esports Workshop #2: “How to Collaborate with Esports Stars”
Collaborating with esports influencers is more familiar to technology and electronics brands. However, other brands from different industries such as FMCG or fashion can also join the market, regardless of their direct target consumers. According to our esports whitepaper, esports influencers have proven effective in raising awareness and increasing sales for brands, even when their products are not game-related. Specifically, 51% of esports audiences trust products introduced by esports KOLs, and 42% regularly buy those products and find them to fit their needs.
Mr. Kiko Tran, Sales & Marketing Director of Team Flash, shared that to collaborate with esports stars most effectively, brands need to know the essential criteria to evaluate the popularity of esports tournaments. According to Mr. Tran, the most important criteria are ‘Peak Concurrent Users’ and ‘Total Views.’ From such data, brands can make appropriate investment selections and create effective ads. In addition, the audience of each esports game is very different, such as in age or gender. Therefore, brands must study those factors to make the right investments and bring about the highest promotional efficiency. Esports influencers are very different from other influencers, Mr. Tran said, as brands need to pay attention in crafting the content and the collaboration plan suitable for influencers in the most effective way. Mr. Tran used the collaboration between Vietjet Air and Team Flash as an example; Vietjet’s goal is to become the top-of-mind brand for young people and increase brand love. Therefore, sponsoring tournaments and accompanying esports influencers with their airline are valuable because the brand’s presence is highly visible over a long period of time.
Ms. Ivy Chau, Media Engagement Lead at Vero, shared some tips for collaborating with influencers in general and esports influencers in particular. She said that brands should find or create a link between the brand and the influencer and clearly define the expectations of both parties, because the values that esports influencers bring to brands will be different from the values brought on other platforms. In addition, Ivy shared that when Vero decides to collaborate with influencers for a brand, they take into account not only the number of followers or the engagement of the influencer, but also their story, their personality, their ability to create content, and whether they share values with the brand.
Xuan Bach (XB), a professional esports player and an esports influencer with Team Flash, shared that professional esports players often have a rather reserved personalities, so being in front of the camera caused pressure for him in the beginning. When brands come to pro players like Xuan Bach with a specific script, they will not have much room to show their personalities and will eventually lose their naturalness , so he recommends letting them convey the advertising message in their own ways. A good example of this was Xuan Bach’s recent partnership with ZaloPay for a lottery program. To announce the winner of the program, Xuan Bach used his own celebratory way when winning skins in games – that is, playing local lottery music and interacting with the audience, to apply to the event. This resulted in an increase in interaction and closeness to Xuan Bach’s audience. Therefore, brands should find common ground between the content of the esports KOL/streamer and the content of the brand to help them convey their messages in a more natural way.
Esports #3: “How Can Brand Bridge The Gap Through Esports?”
Mr. Nguyen Bao Khanh, Co-founder and Strategy Director of OnMic, said that Vietnam’s approach to esports is a little slower than some other parts of the world, as we are still in the stage of building and strengthening the public’s awareness of gaming and esports. Since there are still prejudices about gaming, brands are hesitant to create campaigns on game platforms. Another barrier is that Vietnamese brands struggle with how to make use of the platforms, Mr. Khanh says, which may stem from the fact that brands in Vietnam themselves are still struggling to adjust themselves to fit the esports world and its players.
Mr. Duong Chi Tam, Marketing Manager of VNG, highlighted some examples following this conversation. VNG, in recent years, has had several collaborations with brands, and there have been positive outcomes, which Mr. Tam believed would be an era for new advertising trends for many industries in Vietnam. For example, in summer 2020, the energy drink brand Warrior partnered with the mobile game PUBG (distributed by VNG) to launch a Warrior x PUBG Mobile promotion. During this promotion, customers who bought Warrior x PUBG Mobile VN limited edition drinks could find a prize code in the cap and hunt travel vouchers worth 15 million VND. The promotion also featured two streamers – ViruSs and Ngân Sát Thủ. According to Mr. Tam, the change in packaging to feature PUBG characters was an important factor that attracted consumers. This promotion was very successful, with an increase in sales that went beyond their expectations.
Mr. Tam also cited PUBG Mobile’s partnership with Yamaha to design new motorcycle skins for the game.
According to Vero’s latest whitepaper on esports, advertising in esports remains an effective tactic for brands to reach potential customers. 86% of esports viewers claim to have interacted with ads from brands. Among them, ads with in-game rewards and ads with videos attract the most interaction. Viewers are also more likely to buy products after encountering in-game ads. Surprisingly, the Food & Drink, Apparel, and Fashion Accessories industries compete very closely with brands directly related to the game.
Mr. Ngo Hong Phuc, Strategy Director at Vero, also added that esports is gradually developing into a large ecosystem and there are many ways for brands to access this ecosystem. For example, brands can insert videos or banners in games, collaborate with esports KOLs/ esports players, or collaborate via IP sharing. The most important thing is that the brand needs to determine the budget and clear objectives of the campaign so that, through KOL or any chosen forms of advertising, the campaign can achieve the goals in the most optimal way.
Sign up to receive our Esports whitepaper once available HERE