E-Sports: ‘Not Just Another Product Placement’ To Pizza Hut

SliceIt’s probably not a newsflash that the video gaming demographic likes pizza.

It’s one of the reasons why Pizza Hut is the inaugural advertiser for a new e-sports and gaming network called SMASHER from multichannel network Endemol Beyond.

The pizza chain will sponsor the premiere episode of “Legends of Gaming,” SMASHER’s flagship US series.

“The production team has been awesome at finding a natural, authentic way to fit our brand into the story so that viewers don’t see it as just another product placement,” said Lincoln Faulkner, digital media manager for Pizza Hut. “We… want to promote excitement [and go] well beyond great pre-roll content.”

E-sports – the world of professional video gaming – draws an estimated global audience of 134 million, and that audience is growing rapidly.

As a result, advertisers are looking to invest, with 2015 corporate sponsorships forecasted to exceed $111 million in North America, according to market intelligence firm SuperData Research.

SMASHER, accessible via streaming and over-the-top services like Roku, YouTube, Verizon Go90 and Vessel, hopes to build on the success of “Legends” abroad.

It’s already a cult hit in the UK, with about 32 million views. In its launch week, it got 110,000 views for Episode 1 of “Legends of Gaming” and netted 35,000 subscriptions in under 24 hours. 

To integrate natively into SMASHER’s environment, Pizza Hut created a branded experience called “The Hut” where gaming talent sits and enjoys pizza after they play and recap their sessions.

It will include annotated links in videos to drive traffic to its site and support the e-gaming activation with content on its owned social channels.

“Our primary goal is to drive awareness and affinity for the brand, so we’ll be tracking CPM and CPV to make sure we’re being as efficient as possible,” Faulkner added. “We’re also using the season to introduce a limited time product, Twisted Crust, so we’ll additionally track how successful the campaign is in driving orders.”

Endemol is not Pizza Hut’s first run at e-sports sponsorships. It’s partnered with Major League Gaming, as well as Machinima and Twitch.tv to supply pizza to a top e-sports team.

Although each of the live gaming networks have their nuances, Faulkner noted that he was attracted to the production value Endemol offered around live entertainment.

“We think the draw to the brand is simple enough – it’s gaming and pizza … and we’ve been around since competitive gaming got its start in arcades,” he added. The brand’s objective is to expand its connection to gamers and to monitor their feedback and reaction to its presence throughout the season of Legends.

Endemol Beyond will produce 100 videos for “Legends of Gaming” in total, which will run Oct. 7 through February. The premiere series will include 37 episodes hosted by popular YouTube personality and vlogger Toby Turner, with Pizza Hut, Razer and iBuyPower all coming on as sponsors.

Prior to Endemol’s launch of e-sports network SMASHER, it launched this spring YouTube personality Michelle Phan’s global lifestyle network, ICON.

 

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