Jack in the Box, the quick-service restaurant chain, is using e-sports as a way to forge connections with millennials and members of Generation Z.

Sheena Dougher, the brand’s director/customer experience and marketing communications, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Digital and Social Media Conference.

“We brought the first late-night menu into the QSR space,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Jack in the Box games its way into the hearts and minds of millennials and Gen Z.)

The brand is in its second year of working with e-sports. Its programs include sponsorship of The the Dallas Fuel, an e-sports team that competes in the Overwatch League, and the Dallas-based Team Envy’s team in the Call of Duty league.

A highly visible aspect of its activity is the presence of logos on team jerseys and arena signage. “But, honestly,” Dougher said, “if we didn’t get [those placements], it wouldn’t matter, because they aren’t what resonates with the gaming audience.

“If you want to build a connection with them, and you really want them to buy into your brand, you need to go much farther than just slapping your logo on stuff.”

The centre of the brand’s efforts to foster a bond with e-sports fans is an animated “Fuel House” web series in which Jack Box, the character that embodies the brand in advertising, moves in with members of the Dallas Fuel.

The premier six-episode series was originally shown on GameSpot, a website that provides news, reviews, and other related video-game content to more than four million subscribers. The campaign used other digital channels to drive engagement, too.

“Animation is really the language that e-sports talks,” Dougher said. “[And] e-sports people: they’re imaginative, and they like these fantastical layers that animation can take them to.”

Taking a test-and-learn approach with gamer community, she added, is essential. “Some of the content that we initially started off doing didn’t resonate with them at all,” Dougher said.

“They’ll call you out, and they’ll tell you if you’re being inauthentic. They’ll tell you if you’re being a poser, or you’re trying to get into their space. And that happened to us early on,” she said.

Sourced from WARC