Turtle Wax is Growing its Esports Footprint: Why This is a Great Predictor for the Industry

April 3, 2018

Turtle Wax and esports may not initially be the first combination that springs to mind, but the automotive appearance product manufacturer is greatly increasing its commitment to its esports sponsorships.

This is significant for two reasons.

First, it was just two years ago when Turtle Wax tentatively dipped its toe in the esports sponsorship water. Its first deal with Chicago-based OpTic Gaming (one of the top Call of Duty professional teams in the world) was only three months long.

At the time, the CEO of OpTic Gaming, Hector Rodriguez, said that he was excited about the deal, despite the fact that his group usually only accepted one-year sponsorships.

“Turtle Wax hopes to renew the sponsorship after the first quarter, but this is their first time into esports. We’re opening up doors for brands to understand that they don’t have to step in for a full year with this quarterly activation.”

Left unspoken, but still clear, is that both sides were equally excited and uncertain about the partnership. For OpTic Gaming, it was a chance to experiment partnering with a large, national brand. For Turtle Wax, it was a chance to try out a new form of sponsorship and discover if the brand could fit in the burgeoning world of esports.

Clearly, the trial run worked. With every new contract, Turtle Wax extended further and further into the esports scene.

This latest expansion finds Turtle Wax creating new, narrative-driven content with OpTic Gaming’s Rodriguez, coach Michael “FlamesworD” Chaves, and team director and YouTube personality Austin “Pamaj” Pamajewon.

Turtle Wax is also expanding its esports presence overseas. The brand is going to sponsor European-based Splyce teams that play Call of Duty and League of Legends. Brand ambassadors for Turtle Wax’s across-the-pond venture include the United Kingdom-based Call of Duty players Dylan “MadCat” Daly and Tom “Tommey” Trewren.

Photo Credit: esportsobserver

“Our esports partnerships have helped drive brand relevancy and were a significant factor in our year-over-year sales growth,” says Turtle Wax Global Marketing Director, Courtney Lauer. “Our social media channels – where esports fans are highly active – have experienced tremendous growth with engagement up 50 percent last year.”

The second reason this sponsorship is significant is because Turtle Wax is not something most people would associate with esports.

The companies that were among the first to sponsor esports events and teams were brands used to play or in the production of esports, such as software and computer component manufacturers and energy drinks. These are known as endemic sponsors.

Esports has had non-endemic sponsors before Turtle Wax. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jack in the Box, Snickers, and Coca-Cola have all been involved with esports, but most of those have, at least, tangential ties (in fact, it could be argued that Coca-Cola and Snickers have as much right to be considered endemic sponsors as energy drinks – with Jack in the Box not far behind).

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are a bit more of a stretch, but those brands make much more sense as sponsors than the product used to make them shine.

Yet, the Turtle Wax sponsorship has been successful. Why? In large part, the esports audience is appreciative of brands that support the teams and personalities that they like.

“Turtle Wax remains committed to esports because it presents an unrivaled opportunity to connect with the next generation of car enthusiasts in an authentic way that resonates with fans,” says Lauer. “Esports is also an extremely valuable platform because it reaches Turtle Wax audiences on a global scale, which is why we have decided to expand our partnership on an international level for 2018.”

Clearly, Turtle Wax has been able to judge the return on investment (ROI) from their esports engagements and has decided it is in the brand’s best interest to, not only continue, but to grow the relationship.

There is a likely possibility that this is simply the beginning of non-endemic brands identifying the benefits of entering the esports space.

The popularity of esports is no longer a secret. The esports industry has been continually growing for several years. In 2013, the worldwide value of the esports market was less than $100 million. In 2017, the value was considered to be $733 million. By 2022, the global esports market is expected to reach a total value of $1.9 billion, according to the market research and consultancy firm Ovum.

The global audience for esports last year was 385 million viewers. Nearly half of those viewers (191 million) considered themselves to be esports enthusiasts (the rest were occasional viewers). Yet, by 2020, the number of enthusiasts is expected to increase almost 50 percent (286 million).

Yet, the more important trend may be the one toward stability. Leagues are being created that are going to have lasting longevity. The Overwatch League signed 12 teams for the first-ever global city-based esports league. Major sports league franchises, including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League, have paired with corresponding video games to create competitive esports leagues around their respective sports.

Photo Credit: overwatchleague.com

What you’re seeing is an esports landscape that is stabilizing, which makes it easier for brands to predict where the market is heading and anticipate potential ROI or judge actual results. In addition, these leagues deliver a predictable, global audience and platform. For example, in Dallas, Texas alone there are currently three esports teams: the Dallas Fuel (Overwatch League), Mavs Gaming (NBA 2K League), and the Dallas Cowboys tied Madden NFL Club Championship team (with a likely fourth to come when the NHL esports league is fleshed out).

It is the previous lack of predictability, of established order, may have been the only thing holding esports back. Historically, esports events were run by a variety of organizations (such as various media companies and game publishers), which made it difficult for a casual viewer to establish a narrative and understand the stakes. Something like the Overwatch League, for example, takes care of that. There are defined teams (regionally based for additional rooting interest) and an easily intelligible leaderboard. Anyone who understands traditional sports, can grasp this idea of esports.

To add to the esports industry’s cachet, celebrities and sports stars are investing in the action. A few of the notable names who entered the space in 2017 include Marshawn Lynch, Jennifer Lopez, Joe Montana, Shaquille O’Neal, and Robert Kraft. In addition, Will Ferrell (the actor who has already starred in films revolving around competitive car racing, basketball, ice skating, and youth soccer) has signed on to star in a movie about esports.

For anyone who is worried about how Will Ferrell may represent the esports industry in this upcoming film (in other words, will it be Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobbyor Blades of Glory?), it really doesn’t matter. How the industry is represented in a comedy is much less important than the very fact of the representation.

It all goes back to the success of the Turtle Wax sponsorship, which means more disparate elements are going to become part of the esports scene because it’s becoming mainstream. You don’t need a Call of Dutyavatar to stop in the middle of a game to polish a tank, you just need to see the Turtle Wax logo featured on a backdrop during an interview. The ROI takes care of itself from there.

If you are a brand and would like to get into the esports scene, or if you would like to put on an esports tournament, give our esports specialists a call at 972-323-6354.