Gillette, one of the progenitors of sports marketing, has been playing with video-game controllers for the last decade, largely using its spokesjocks from the real world to compete with masters of various electronic pursuits in a Gillette Champions initiative.

Racecar driver/Gillette spokesman Denny Hamlin thus competed against the winner of a NASCAR video game; Derek Jeter toyed with a digital-baseball champ; Tiger Woods played an electronic round of golf with a young eSports expert; and soccer player Landon Donovan took on an electronic world champion on a virtual soccer field.

But, as gaming continued to gain momentum among younger audiences, such passive catch-up programs didn’t tap into the full market potential. “We started, really, about four years ago just to look at the space,” observed Greg Via, Gillette’s global head/eSports & entertainment marketing, “and it took me a couple of years to try to get anyone to pay attention.”