Progressive inks esports naming rights deal in latest sign of category’s maturation

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Progressive Insurance signed a multiyear, exclusive naming rights deal with esports organization Immortals, which is known for its League of Legends play, according to a news release. It is Immortals’ first sponsorship agreement of this kind.
  • Immortals’ League of Legends teams will now compete under the name “Immortals Progressive,” while Progressive serves as the group’s official insurance sponsor. The change is reflected in official gear and merchandise, including new Northern Lights-themed jerseys that bear the Progressive logo and nod to the Great Lakes region where Immortals relocated last year.
  • As part of the naming rights pact, Progressive acts as presenting sponsor of a new branded Twitch streaming program hosted by Immortals team members that will run regularly throughout 2022. Other activations encompass community-based League of Legends tournaments, prize giveaways and the development of a co-branded space in the video game Minecraft that supports virtual contests and custom games for fans.

Dive Insight:

Progressive joins a deluge of major brands that are building more substantial relationships with the esports community as gaming becomes a dominant form of entertainment and increasingly informs marketing tactics. While plenty of non-endemic marketers now dabble in video games, naming rights deals that last years, require frequent creative output and depend on trust with creators signal that blue-chip advertisers like Progressive see the category as a long-term bet.

Activating around esports looks different than media strategies tailored to the traditional sports arena. Progressive is leaning into the appeal of streaming content to engage with Immortals’ digital native followers.

The third-largest auto insurer in the U.S. will host Twitch streams “one or more times per month” on the channels of Immortals talent like content creator AriaSaki and pro League of Legends players PowerOfEvil, WildTurtle, Revenge, Destiny and Xerxe. Broadcasts will feature custom Progressive banners and offer viewers the chance to score prizes. The marketer will also have a presence at major esports events, such as the LCS Lock In tournament where Immortals Progressive will compete in its first match on Jan. 15. The event streams on Twitch and YouTube.

The shared Minecraft venue also suggests that Progressive is testing out strategies related to the metaverse, which has close ties to gaming. Other companies have turned to platforms similar to Minecraft, like Roblox, to develop virtual spaces where consumers can participate in activities, try on goods and learn more about products and services.

Other recent esports tie-ups of note include McDonald’s linking with FaZe Clan — among the most established brands in the industry — in August. The deal was billed as “one of gaming’s biggest QSR partnerships to date.” Cryptocurrency platform in November became the first global marketing partner of Twitch Rivals, the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform’s competition destination.

Esports content was expected to draw around 26 million monthly viewers last year in the U.S., according to eMarketer estimates.

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