A-League clubs tap into growing esports trend with fresh consumer engagement play

Three Australian football league clubs join up with Fortnite to drive engagement with younger audiences

The A-League in Fortnite
The A-League in Fortnite

The partnership struck between A-League clubs and Epic Games virtual gaming platform, Fortnite, will put Australia’s football league on fresh footing against international clubs while opening the door to new opportunities to engage consumers, its orchestrators say.

This week, three A-League teams – Melbourne City FC, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers – joined more than 20 other top global clubs within the Fortnite game offering in-game club outfits to players. There are 10 variants of the new ‘Kickoff Set’ outfits available to Fortnite players, with each outfit able to be swapped to any of the 23 football clubs participating.

In addition, players are able to earn or purchase two new emotes, including a ‘Fancy Footwork’ dribbling emote and ‘Pel’es Air Punch’ celebration, the latter on offer thanks to an existing partnership between Epic Games and the Brazilian footballer. These tie into rewards that can be earned while participating. It’s supported by a creative hub that will host an immersive football experience over the week.

As well as having personalised jerseys in-game, the A-League teams are hosting a dedicated Fortnite tournament on 27 January with a mix of players, fans and Fortnite creators which will see them vying for Fortnight and A-League prize packs.

Australian Professional League commercial lead and CEO of Sydney FC, Danny Townsend, cited a significant demographic overlap between the youth audience that loves football, and those who are playing Fortnight.

“This partnership takes us to where our fans are and creates new opportunities to engage with the global game,” he said.

“Football is consistently one of the top sports that our players tell us they want to see and experience in Fortnite,” continued Epic Games head of global partnerships, Nate Nanzer.

“We’re excited to partner with Melbourne City FC, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers to bring the beautiful game to Fortnite fans around the world as they face off in competitive tournaments, experience new creative modes of gameplay and celebrate global football.”  

Fortnite is one of the biggest games on the planet, boasting of more than 350 million accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections. More widely, the rise of esports and virtual gaming is now garnering the attention of increasing numbers of brands looking to find immersive ways to connect with younger consumers.

According to PwC’s 2020 Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook, interactive games and esports are expected to grow to $4.4bn in 2024, a 6.87 per cent CAGR driven by app-based games and esports. They were also the fastest-growing segment in the 2019 PwC Outlook.  

Wunderman Thompson’s recent trends research also highlight digital and virtual sports engagement as a significant area of focus for sporting brands and rights holders looking to rebuild connection after losing so much fan engagement in the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A good example is Lion Dairy and Drinks, which strived to bring together the real game with virtual by tapping into online streaming platform, Twitch, Fortnite and the pool of AFL players available to it under its sponsorship agreement with St Kilda Saints. The ambition was to drive engagement with its Dare Iced Coffee brand.  

The program of work last April saw the brand host a live stream on Twitch featuring St Kilda players, Jack Bytel and Max King, along with gaming influencer, LoserFruit. The two-hour branded live stream on Twitch was targeted at esport and gaming fans and devised by Publicis Sport & Entertainment, with media handled by Starcom. Fans were also invited to square up against the AFL stars and LoserFruit on Fortnite.

“In these uncertain and challenging times, Dare Iced Coffee is looking to find new ways to help keep our drinkers entertained in home via our existing partnerships and to provide a great opportunity for them to drink it through,” Lion Dairy & Drinks marketing and innovation director, Darryn Wallace, said at the time.

“We’re hoping the Lockdown-Showdown is just the start of a much broader program of integration across sporting worlds.”  

Read more about the rise of esports and what brands need to know in this special CMO feature here.    
 

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

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