Marketing Sponsorship sportsbiz Team Vitality

“Esports Is The Perfect Bridge Between Sports And Entertainment”

April 26, 2021

Guillaume de Monplanet sees the future of Team Vitality, which he recently joined as managing director and co-CEO, as becoming a “cultural brand” like others in music, fashion, cinema and traditional sports.

Those are all areas he knows very well, having spent the past eight years at Adidas as managing director of Adidas France. Before that he was the country brand director in France for Reebok. iSportConnect’s Jay Stuart asked him about his new role and his views on the growth of the Esports market.

How are major brands being brought in relating to the growth of sponsorship in Esports Guillaume, and what is the difference between the proposition of Esports and traditional sports?

Major brands are coming to traditional sports teams or athletes for two main reasons: mass visibility, and association of values.

“Traditional sports are carrying strong values that major brands are interested in.”

Traditional sports are carrying strong values that major brands are interested in in search of performance and winning spirit, collective spirit, fair play, respect, to name a few.

With Esports, there is no doubt those two elements are important as well for major sponsors, but there is one massive difference: Esports offers privileged and very qualified access to a huge and engaged fan base. Major brands have no better way to connect to that audience, which is so important to most of them, than partnering with a major esports team. 

Is it all about the data differences between the two?

It is a lot about data, but not only. Of course, the volume of audience, the quality of audience, the engagement rates, the knowledge of the audience, all those data points are important and justify the investment levels. But the most important aspect in a sponsorship relationship is that the story told to the audience makes sense and is authentic.

That is why you can’t have a long-lasting relationship with a partner who does not share your project with authenticity. The fans would not be interested in the stories told. With Team Vitality’s partners, we are very attentive to choose partners that make sense and tell authentic and meaningful stories.

Does Esports need to build ‘mainstream’ media audience?

Esports does not need to. The Esports audience is very engaged and knowledgeable about the games, the athletes, the teams. That builds tremendous value already. However, with Team Vitality, we have the ambition to build a cultural brand rooted in Esports and gaming.

“Gaming is becoming a strong pillar of youth culture, alongside music, fashion, sports or cinema.”

We believe gaming is becoming a strong pillar of youth culture, alongside music, fashion, sports or cinema. As such gaming is a great playground for brands to express creativity and talent. Team Vitality is a top team in esports. We foster creative talents in gaming and want to expand our influence on larger audience bases.

Can you tell us more about V-Hive and that creation?

V-Hive is a great place and a great asset to create authentic experiences for our fans. Unfortunately, with the sanitary situation, V-Hive has been closed or operating at a very low level in the last months.

However, we have managed to create new programs for different audiences, which are already a great success: our Vacation Schools, dedicated to teenagers. A full week of gaming experience, where they can learn and train with the best coaches and athletes and discover the values and the skills needed to perform at the highest level. 

“Events and experiences offered around gaming and esports will be a growing revenue stream for us.”

And the League of Legend Corporate League, in association with Riot Games, offering to companies a chance to create team building activities and play a real championship with other companies. It’s really exciting to develop those programs, which will be played live at V-Hive as soon as we can.

Do you see live events becoming a more important revenue stream?

Yes. The examples cited above are only a few of the programs we plan to develop. Events and experiences offered around gaming and esports will be a growing revenue stream for us.

We believe gaming played at its best is a demonstration of skills, competencies and good values. It can help kids around the world develop their own talents and become better persons. We truly believe in this and want to contribute to change perceptions of gaming and Esports.

 How does Esports fit into the sports ecosystem and governance?

So far, even if there are a few pathways and collaborations (FIFA, F1), it is difficult to say that traditional sports governance has understood how to manage esports as well. In many ways, esports is more advanced than many traditional sports, in understanding how to create passion and engagement with the new generations.

The most advanced traditional sports organisations in the world (the NBA is a good example) are looking at esports and some initiatives developed in the gaming industry.

Esports is the perfect bridge between sports and entertainment, and as such will inevitably find its spot in the world sports governance at some point. But I take the bet that traditional sports will also have to evolve a lot to adapt to the speed of esports development.

Where is Esports and betting going?

It is a difficult equation to resolve. There are still a lot of challenges on the way and esports should try to remain a positive and inclusive playground, where fair play and honesty are important values.

Marketing Sponsorship sportsbiz Team Vitality