G Fuel has etched a couple of firsts in eSports recently, becoming the official energy drink of Turner and WME/IMG’s ELeague, as well as acquiring the sponsorship naming rights to ELeague’s Atlanta-based studio, now identified as the G Fuel ELeague Arena. Also, all of the competitors and casters have G Fuel cups next to them during the broadcasts as part of the product integration.
Cliff Morgan, CEO of Gamma Labs, told [a]listdaily that while the naming rights for the G Fuel ELeague Arena was closer to the price of a smaller US stadium rights, in reality, that stadium holds a few million people because of the reach of eSports across the global landscape.
“We felt this was the spot to take,” Morgan said. He referenced similarities to the Ultimate Fighter reality show that helped turn UFC into a mainstream sport. He believes what Turner is doing with ELeague will have similar results in pushing eSports into the mainstream.
“With ELeague on Turner, this exposes our brand to a lot of new people on TV at the same time as the core eSports fans who watch on Twitch,” Morgan said. “Over the first two seasons, Turner has managed to get viewership up. We decided to become the official energy drink of eSports because if we want to be synergetic, we need to defend our first mover advantage.”
Morgan previously worked with Turner in 2008 on the World Series of Poker. He said that having the ELeague commercial spots on Twitter are a great way to target the eSports audience, but getting on TBS is even better.
G Fuel was also prominently displayed across the 11th annual Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tour, which included promotions at the IEM Expo in Katowice, Poland over the past two weekends.
Morgan said that G Fuel and Gamma Labs have risen up in tandem with eSports. “G Fuel has become endemic to the eSports space as a beverage company,” Morgan said. “We’re so much more than a beverage company.”
Case in point, Morgan said fans at the IEM Expo bought up all of the company’s collectible G Fuel shaker cups and tubs. In addition, they drank 60,000 sample cups of different G Fuel flavored drinks. There are 17 flavors available in the market today.
“IEM seemed like the right spot a year ago when we committed to season 11 because we were expanding so much globally and this tournament gave us an opportunity to tour South Korea and embed ourselves in other cultures,” Morgan said. “We opened an office in Seoul, Korea recently and have three guys working there full-time to build out our brand.”
Of course, South Korea is the birthplace of eSports and that country has a rabid fan base. “We feel we can emulate our business in South Korea because we have a lead-in with IEM,” Morgan said. “The young Millennial Koreans understand our business and they love eSports. And the pro gamers are like rock stars in that country. They’re definitely ahead of the U.S. in that respect.”
Morgan feels there are two things that differentiate G Fuel from energy drinks like Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar. G Fuel gets 95 percent of its business from online orders, and fans love the brand integration. “Every day on Twitter they’re seeing photos of people building out shelves and saving G Fuel tubs,” Morgan said. “That brand attraction is what everybody searches for. When we drop a new shaker cup, it’s like Nike launching a new shoe. We’ll sell 15,000 in three minutes.”
G Fuel also works directly with eSports teams and pro gamers with its flavors. For example, Faze has its own drink, FazeBerry and the team’s pro gamer, Nordan “Faze Rain” Shat has his own flavor called Tropical Rain.
“They all want their own flavors,” Morgan said. Saqib Zahid, the number one streamer on Twitch, who’s known as Lirik, is a G Fuel ambassador and will be getting a Peach Iced Tea flavor coming out in the next 60 days.
“We have a host of other famous pro gamers and influencers who will be getting flavors,” Morgan said. “It works really well for us.”
For parents who don’t want their kids to be consuming so much caffeine, Morgan said two additional caffeine-free and stimulant-free drinks will be added in the second quarter of this year—joining the current orange flavor.
The company is also launching a 24K drink on March 22 that will include 2 milligrams of real gold, which Morgan said is good for joints, muscles and the heart. “We’ve combined the gold flakes with some high-level ingredients,” Morgan said. “This product hasn’t been designed for sitting and playing video games like G Fuel. This has been formulated for physical activity and fitness.”