Global Shipping and Logistics Company DHL Becomes Official Partner of ESL One Series

June 8, 2018

The ESL One Series has added another non-endemic sponsor. DHL, the German logistics company, was recently announced as the official shipping and logistics partner for the ESL One tournament series. As part of the deal, DHL will handle all event logistics for the ESL One series in Dota 2 and CS:GO, transporting stage equipment to and from venues throughout the series, including gaming gear and the individual seating that belongs to the teams and players.

Landing a large global brand like DHL is huge for ESL, as non-endemic sponsors are an essential component in esports’ growth. 2017 saw a glut of non-endemic companies sponsoring esports competitions, like The Kraft Group (owner of the New England Patriots) and Mercedes-Benz.

Photo Credit: The Esports Observer

In return, esports puts brands in front of an audience that is becoming notoriously difficult to reach. That’s because this group, primarily comprised of millennials, is very savvy at avoiding traditional advertising. However, they aren’t opposed to brands or even the idea of consumerism, quite the opposite. In general, they appreciate brands that thoughtfully integrate sponsorships with the activities they enjoy, in this case, esports. They want to see that brands are actively helping to improve or benefit the scene. Meaning, you can’t just slap a logo on something and hope that will be enough.

ESL has been on a roll as of late picking up sponsors. In addition to DHL, the tournament series recently announced Alienware as its official PC and monitor partner and the global telecommunications company Vodafone as a premium sponsor for its flagship events.

DHL’s first sponsorship event was ESL One Birmingham (where it was greeted with cheers. ESL One Birmingham was the first Dota 2 Major to ever be held in the United Kingdom. This will be followed by a CS:GO tournament in Brazil in June. The ESL One series then heads to Cologne in July, New York in September, and Hamburg in October.

Photo Credit: ESL Dota 2

“Every event, every freight shipment and every location has its own individual demands and requirements to which the respective logistics must be precisely tailored,” said Vincenzo Scrudato, Managing Director, DHL Trade Fairs & Events. “All the logistics components need to fit right down to the last detail – from A for air freight to Z for zero defects.”

DHL is the world’s largest logistics company. It employees over 350,000 people and operates in 220 countries. The company’s previous sponsorships are extremely diverse and include European Football Clubs (including Manchester United and German football league system club FC Bayern Munich), South African Western Cape Rugby Union teams, Cirque du Soleil (as the official logistics partner), and numerous fashion designers.

“In DHL we have found the perfect partner to provide the support we need for the complex logistics challenges entailed in our global tournaments,” said Ralf Reichert, Global President and CEO of ESL. “With DHL on our team, we are delighted to be able to create added value for both esports and the esports community all around the world, and to play our part in promoting the continued growth of the esports scene.”

As part of the announcement, DHL released demographics research that denoted 60 percent of esports fans as being between the ages of 16 and 35. DHL has indicated that it is very interested in expanding its reach to the younger generation.

The esports audience is an attractive one. With an average age of 26, this audience is just getting used to having disposable income. It is also growing at a tremendous pace: 38 percent year-on-year growth according to the research firm Newzoo. However, this group is a notoriously tricky audience to reach through conventional advertising. They stream entertainment while blocking (or blocking out) commercials, use ad blocking software when searching online, and communicate and share news over social media. They are also a skeptical bunch, wary of anything that appears inauthentic. Which is one reason why the DHL partnership works, they are providing an essential service for ESL One and integrating seamlessly into the scene.

Photo Credit: Talk Esport

“In esports, we can reach this important target group with the DHL brand on an emotional level, and with content and formats that are tailored precisely to their interests and their media usage patterns,” said Arjan Sissing, Head of Corporate Brand Marketing at Deutsche Post DHL Group. “We are delighted to have found a partner in ESL that is one of the leading players in the international esports business. Through our partnership, we intend to create unique moments that bring people together.”

As part of the sponsorship, the DHL brand will appear on the various social media channels run by ESL and will feature DHL in, according to the press release, “further communications measures” throughout the ESL One series.

In 2008, DHL transformed it’s marketing endeavors by creating the DHL Partner Program, an

online portal that offers regional staff tools and best practices to leverage global platforms and get the most out of local ties.

“The program has helped foster a better understanding of why we use sponsorship and what it can achieve, and fewer deals driven by a local management director who is a fan of a specific sport,” said Fiona Taag, Global Sponsorship Manager at DHL.

“More and more, especially in the economic climate in recent years, you want to make sure sponsorship works as hard as possible.

“We’re a B2B company, and we tie our business into everything we do. We want to demonstrate that we are the logistics company for the world, and we do that through sponsorship. It’s not about putting our brand on the side of an event or team. It’s about actually demonstrating what we do on a day-by-day basis.”

In fact, ESL is not the only esport that DHL will be involved with throughout 2018. As part of an ongoing deal it has with Formula 1, the company is the official partner of the F1 esports series, and as part of its partnership with FC Bayern Munich, DHL banner advertising will be seen throughout the video game FIFA 18.

Photo Credit: Formula 1

Having non-endemic brands join as esports sponsors is essential for the industry’s growth. Endemic sponsors (products and brands used to play esports or operate esports events) are always going to be an important part of the esports scene. But, if limited to these sponsors, growth will be capped because the industry will operate in a closed loop. The early sponsorship of esports by endemic sponsors certainly helped the sport survive, but it didn’t help it grow.

However, as more and more non-endemic brands become sponsors, more and more people will be exposed to esports. That is the essential component of growth: new eyes. One way to encourage newcomers to give esports a chance is to activate them through products and brands that they trust.

The involvement of non-endemic brands like DHL is another sure sign of the upward trajectory of the esports industry. If you are interested in discovering how your brand can comfortably fit within an esports niche, give one of our eGency Global experts a call at 972-323-6354.