Jigar Sheth, CRO, and, Vishal Parekh, CMO, NODWIN Gaming, discuss the branding opportunities with esports, marketing events, and more.
With the recent surge in the consumption of esports and brand engagements, esports tournaments are a hot topic of discussion. Various brands have identified esports tournaments as a way to gain favor with the youth.
In the growing sector, esports company NODWIN Gaming, a subsidiary of Nazara Technologies, bolsters a roster of over 30 different esports IPs. In an exclusive interaction with afaqs!, Jigar Sheth, chief revenue officer, NODWIN, shares that as the landscape of gaming in India is evolving, so are the organisers.
"In the past, BATTLEGROUNDS MOBILE INDIA (BGMI) Masters Series was our major focus. It was one of the first esports tournaments to air live on Star Sports 2. That tournament was a big hit, in terms of numbers. It ranked number three, behind the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) on TV in 2022."
The success has led NODWIN to venture into hosting tournaments of all shapes and sizes.
Sheth describes the company's modus operandi like this: identify a popular video game and devise an interesting esports tournament out of it. Right now, the company is focussing on bringing forth Kingfisher Indian Premiership, a nine-month-long tournament, featuring games like Clash of Clans, WCC, and Tekken 7.
Speaking about how advertising has changed for NODWIN, Sheth mentions that, until a couple of years ago, only endemic brands used to sponsor events. But now, non-endemic brands are also heavily partaking in esports advertising.
"We have a lot of mainstream brands like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Swiggy, Philips, among others, sponsoring our events. These brands pour in a lot of advertising dollars in traditional sports and are now seeing opportunities in esports as well."
Sheth believes that India has barely scratched the surface, as far as branding and advertising of esports go. While many brand managers and marketers are already aware of the effectiveness of esports as an ad medium, NODWIN is continuously trying to build relationships with more brands.
"I foresee more brands participating with us in the near future. Our bets are that revenue, driven by sponsors, can grow by 3-4 times in 2023." Sheth estimates that a third of NODWIN's revenue comes from brand sponsorships, while the rest comes from auctioning media rights.
With esports tournaments, the scope for brand placements is much higher, as compared to traditional sports, Sheth asserts. "When we organise these tournaments, we are the ones controlling the broadcast. The branding opportunity is immense. From showing existing commercials to placing the products within the game itself, esports tournaments have more branding avenues than traditional sports. We are able to integrate the brands in the most seamless manner. The athletes also interact with the brand during gameplay."
NODWIN has a great relationship with gaming publishers as well, Sethi claims. So, the company is able to integrate brands within the games as well.
Sheth takes the example of PUBG (when the game was not banned) and Mountain Dew PUBG. "We were able to place Mountain Dew within gameplay at competitions. You'd find Mountain Dew dispenser machines within the game, where players could interact and get additional powers."
While NODWIN is trying to collaborate with brands, it is also constantly looking for ways to promote these events to its target audience.
Vishal Parekh, CMO, NODWIN, refers to its target audience as "dark audience". This is because a majority of its target group, i.e., people below 24 years of age, is not active on TV or other forms of ad mediums. Hence, the company leans on developing an effective social media presence by incorporating a mix of social media campaigns, creator-led campaigns as well as gaming influencer-led campaigns.
"Content-driven marketing through creators and influencers is something that we have banked on in reaching out to our target audience. We try to develop innovative campaigns featuring influencers as well as well-known faces in the esports ecosystem for our tournaments. Meet and greet, and merchandising stand out, as we are able to draw a large followership with these sorts of events," adds Parekh.
Without divulging exact marketing plans, he shares that the company is planning to launch more engagement-driven creator campaigns. It is also planning more handshakes between the influencer or creator and their fans, and leveraging platforms like Loco to build a rapport with fans.