The Hershey Co., the candy manufacturer, has found deeper opportunities for collaboration with esports athletes than is often the case in more traditional sports.

Charlie Chappell, head/integrated media and comms planning at The Hershey Co., discussed this subject on a recent webinar held by Brand Innovators.

And while esports – which features in the new WARC Guide to Marketing in the Gaming Ecosystem – is rapidly gaining in popularity, he noted there are still opportunities that are largely absent in traditional stick, bat and ball pursuits.

“The good thing is that the [esports] athletes are all still building up their brands,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Hershey evaluates the appeal of esports and in-game advertising opportunities.)

“Rather than signing some high-priced talent like an NFL or an NBA star, we saw talent as an opportunity. That was the beginning of our approach” in esports.

Hershey has thus partnered with leading gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Ben “Dr Lupo” Lupo, while Reese’s has worked with Timothy John Betar, aka “TimTheTatman”.

And such efforts, Chappell asserted, go much further than asking this talent to do a generic read through of ad copy.

“We talked directly to the streamers we worked with. It wasn’t like, ‘Here are all the copy points; you have to read them.’ It was like, ‘Hey, here’s what we're trying to do; what do you think would work?’” he said.

“Not only did we get a lot of good advice about how to execute in this space, but we found that we built trust with the talent.”

Such a process proved very different to Chappell’s experiences in other disciplines. “I’ve worked with entertainers or athletes,” he said.

“When you get to some of the top-tier [talent], some of them are notorious; they have a million agents around them who are keeping you from ever having any contact with them.

“What was nice about this process was there wasn’t a lot of that in place yet. And so it felt more like a collaboration.”

Sourced from WARC