Kellogg is the latest company to partner with the Overwatch League, signing a multi-year deal with the esports property that will include co-marketing initiatives around its Cheez-It and Pringles products.
The deal will begin alongside the 2019 Overwatch League Playoffs, which begin in earnest on September 5 and culminate with its Grand Finals on September 29 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
As part of the deal, the Cheez-It Grooves and Pringles Wavy brands will be the presenting sponsor of the halftime show and the highlight segments of the 2019 Grand Finals. There will also be a one-day sampling of the two brands products that will coincide with a viewing of the Grand Finals across 1,000 Walmart stores.
The partnership will continue to evolve in the coming years. In 2020 Kellogg will release co-branded packaging for both of those products that feature Overwatch League logos. There will also be U.S. sweepstakes where consumers can win tickets to the Overwatch League finals and other prizes. Pringles’ rights to activate against the league will extend globally, while Cheez-It will be U.S.-only.
The deal between Kellogg and the Overwatch League runs through 2022. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Kellogg is the latest blue-chip brand to align itself with the Overwatch League, which launched in 2018. Other partners of the esports league include Coca-Cola, Intel, State Farm, T-Mobile, and Toyota, as well as OMEN by HP.
In August, Xfinity signed on as the presenting sponsor of the Overwatch League’s 2019 playoffs and Grand Finals.
“In a really short amount of time, our partners are validating the value in the IP, whether that’s Coca-Cola, T-Mobile or in this instance, Kellogg,” said Josh Cella, head of global partnerships for Activision Blizzard Esports. “That has quickly evolved and we’re seeing them taking advantage of it, which is huge for us – people might have heard of Overwatch League but maybe they’ve never been exposed to it. When they see it on a can of Pringles in London or on a package of Cheez-Its in Chicago or New York, it can open their eyes.”
Cella said that although the Overwatch League sponsor portfolio has quickly expanded and interest from brands remains high, the property is not focused on filling out categories.
“We’re not looking to quickly have 25 partners like the NFL has,” Cella said. “In our conversations with different brands, we’re looking for the right fit and the right type of investment from their side – that means not just the actual investment of cash but the kind of activation, the initiatives and the use of our IP, all of which is hugely important for us.”
The importance of in-market activation will increase next year when the league introduces home stands across its local team markets, aiming to further build those team brands in their respective cities while also unlocking revenue opportunities with potential companies like Kellogg.
“We would absolutely encourage any additional team deals,” Cella said, noting that Overwatch League’s model is akin to other pro sports leagues where partners with overarching league deals can also do local deals with teams in the different markets.
“We think that would be a great way for a brand to hone in on a specific market, team or personality. We know are we look out over the next few seasons, the ability for our league partners to activate locally in all of the various team markets is going to be a big priority, and we are encouraging that,” he said. ”We think that will only become more commonplace as we start to go to a home-and-away model.”
Cella declined to comment on the financial terms of the deals or the league’s broader sponsorship revenue growth, but he noted that he believes “we’ve done a pretty good job of establishing the value of a really young and hard to reach but valuable audience.
“he reality is that across the market, whether it’s in entertainment or sports, the average 24-year-old is getting much harder to reach,” he said. “We think our league is a premium way to reach these passionate fans.”