HP is focusing heavily on gamers and esports fans with its new line of Omen laptops and peripherals. As part of that effort, the company has sponsored Team Vitality, Immortals and Team Secret’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Julia “Juliano” Kiran for the past two years. That’s in addition to serving as an official sponsor for Gfinity and as the official PC and display partner of Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch World Cup, which has its finals at BlizzCon 2017.
Josh Kocurek, global marketing manager for gaming and esports at HP, told AListDaily that these deals are strategic decisions.
“We have very clear goals for what we want to achieve in the PC gaming and esports space, and it’s important that the teams and pros we look to partner with share that vision and possess values that are similar to ours,” Kocurek said. “We really look at every investment and endeavor as a mutual partnership, where both parties are working towards a bigger goal.”
For the Omen brand, Kocurek said it’s all about advancing the industry in a positive manner and keeping the gaming audience as its primary reason for doing anything.
“As esports continues to grow and take on bigger and better forms, like with the Overwatch League and franchised regions within League of Legends, I want Omen to be a part of that half-dozen or so companies who really help usher in the next generation of professional gaming,” Kocurek explained.
From a marketing perspective, competitive gaming is a universal language. Kocurek said it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what game you play, everyone can respect the skill and dedication that professional esports teams put into becoming the best.
“That’s why we made the conscious decision late last year to go all-in on esports, and use that as the focal point for all of our storytelling,” Kocurek added. “It also doesn’t hurt that we’re continuing to see such a massive growth in the esports audience year-after-year. It’s definitely helped Omen make a bit more of an impact in the gaming scene, considering we’ve only been around for a little over a year now.”
Kocurek pointed to the Overwatch World Cup as a perfect fit for what the brand is trying to do in celebrating the global nature of esports. He said sponsoring the Overwatch World Cup allows the company to not only power every second of gameplay these teams will be competing in, but also shows that the brand is interested in working with teams all over the world.
The company ships its new Omen X Laptop this fall. It’s the latest in a line of products designed for esports.
“One of the most exciting parts about partnering with esports teams and athletes is being able to work closely with them on the R&D side of Omen’s product development,” Kocurek said. “Whether it’s a high-end gaming laptop, or a mouse aimed specifically at maximizing performance in first-person shooters, the feedback we get from our teams and players is incredibly valuable. We have a continuous open dialogue with them, so they’re providing feedback on everything from key features and product designs for upcoming releases, to their thoughts on prototype ideas that are still two-to-three-years down the road.”
Esports athletes bring a completely different level of conversation to the table, according to Kocurek. They can speak more technically in nature and highlight extreme-use cases of what HP needs to think about when developing its gaming products. For the Omen X Laptop, the conversations were a mix of design and performance like: How big is too big? What trade-offs are you willing to make for performance to fit a certain size or weight? How close are we able to replicate the professional, esports environment for a particular game?
HP also gets marketing mileage out of its esports sponsorships through its players’ social media reach.
“Esports pros, regardless of the title they play, have crazy travel schedules,” Kocurek said. “Gaming is their lifeblood—it’s something that needs to be done whenever and wherever they want. Gaming laptops are the perfect solution for this, one that we’re happy we can provide for our teams. As for how this helps marketing for Omen, we’re well aware that many gamers who purchase a laptop are looking for a device that has them covered at work, at school, at home and even as they travel. Working with our professional teams to showcase this solution is just a natural example of what gamers are looking for.”
Working with esports teams, the Omen brand is also integrated into short-form and social video content that dives into the stories of the players and of the tournaments that captivate so many millennial and younger fans around the globe.
“At the end of the day, Omen is here to dig in and tell more of an authentic story around professional esports athletes, the same way Nike and Under Armour strive to do in the traditional sports world,” Kocurek added. “As for our laptops (and other products), they’re just the ‘shoes’ these athletes are wearing along the way.”