Blizzard Esports Arena Unlocks New Sponsorship Opportunities

Blizzard Entertainment officially opens its new Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank Studios on October 7 with the Overwatch Contenders Season One Playoffs. While a significant part of the facility is devoted to the live event esports stage featuring top esports teams competing across a variety of Blizzard games, there is also a large area devoted to the production of video content for livestreamed shows and separate distribution.

Adam Rosen, senior business operations manager at Blizzard Esports, told AListDaily that the plan is for Blizzard to produce multiple concurrent esports shows around the clock. This post-produced content and studio shows will give Blizzard content for livestreams and for marketing its events across social media and video outlets.

“We’re thinking a lot about how to incorporate sponsorships and brands within the broadcasts in different ways,” Rosen said. “We have event-specific or league-specific sponsors with integration for graphics and advertisements, but also web and venue sponsors as well.”

The core pillar in creating this esports facility was to host “epic esports experiences,” so they’re orchestrating a balance in advertising within the facility so it’s complementary.

“We’re shying away from advertising that would be obtrusive to the experience,” Rosen explained.

But there will be plenty of opportunities for sponsors across the shows and content that Blizzard will be churning out around the clock.

“Brand integrations on our esports shows will be mostly consist of content integrations like you see on traditional sports shows,” Rosen said. “All of those will be ready to go at launch.”

Blizzard’s goal in creating content is to dive deeper into the stories behind the matches, according to Rosen.

Adam Rosen, senior business operations manager at Blizzard Esports

“We want to increase our content value over time and deepen the narratives around all of our leagues,” Rosen explained. “As we create all of these other content pieces, it’s not just about the main stage competition, but to be able to look back at the lives of these players, explore historical stats and records, and bring deeper context to the fans.”

At the same time, as esports continues to gain additional mainstream exposure through coverage on traditional networks like TBS, NBC Sports and ESPN (which has aired Heroes of the Dorm competitions) and Disney XD (which airs Blizzard esports content), Blizzard wants to grow its fan base.

“We’re looking to expand our audience,” Rosen said. “We want to make compelling content for our fans, but we’re starting to expand the reach of our content. A lot of our content is on Twitch, but cutdowns of our content airs on Disney and other outlets. We had Heroes of the Dorm on Facebook Live this year.”

With multiple sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities, Rosen said the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles was built to support a full slate of competitive events year-round. In addition, the Burbank arena will house a Blizzard retail store that rotates stock for event attendees based on the competitions taking place at the time.

The arena will seat 450 audience members, which Rosen said was the right number for the fan experience.

“We explored smaller and much larger audiences, but we think it feels good when you’re there,” Rosen said. “We’ve built the core capacity to support our most complex games, and then we can make changes on a game by game basis.”

Beginning October 13, the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s Summer Championship will bring top Hearthstone pros to the arena for a full weekend of competition, with $250,000 on the line. The global tournament will conclude the third act of the HCT and set the table for the Hearthstone World Championship to take place in early 2018.

The early battles of both the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC) Finals and World of Warcraft Arena Championship will be held at the arena in late October, setting the stage for the championships at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California on November 3-4.

Later this year, some of the top Overwatch players in the world will compete in the inaugural Overwatch League. While the plan is for the 10 city-based teams to establish home arenas for play in the near future, the first season will be held in the new arena.

“The Overwatch League will kick off in December with the regular season beginning in January,” Rosen said. “Tickets to all of our shows will be available to the public so fans can attend. We hope to see fans from the various city-based teams show up to support them.”

Food Fashion: Restaurants And Snack Brands Hit The Runway

Wearing your food used to mean dribbling ketchup down your shirt, but we’ve entered a new age of food fashion. It may seem silly, but brands—especially in the food and snack industry—are designing their own wearable fashions, and they’re selling out fast. From Big Mac boots to White Castle streetwear, you are what you eat and these food brands are cashing in.

Saucy Styles

Taco Bell is the latest brand to create its own fashion, teaming up with Forever 21 to launch its own line of clothing. From what the press have been shown, the designs are pretty saucy—literally. One tank top is modeled after a hot sauce packet. The two brands will debut the rest of the collection on October 10 in Los Angeles’ Fashion District, complete with a runway show, taco trucks and entertainment from a Taco Bell Feed The Beat artist.

The limited edition Forever 21 x Taco Bell collection will launch in Forever 21 stores and online globally October 11.

Finger Lickin’ Fashion

Kentucky Fried Chicken has reinvented itself as a millennial-focused brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. In addition to a series of comedic TV spots and publicity stunts, fans can slip on some chicken-printed socks, don gold-colored “finger lickin’ good” necklaces or lay their heads on Colonel Sanders pillowcases.

Sure, it’s weird, but the extra crispy food fashion seems to be working. Many of the products on KFC’s online store are already sold out. Someone even bought the $20,000 chicken-sandwich-shaped meteorite.

“Our tongue-in-cheek humor and over-the-top selling is something that has been working well for us since many millennials distrust advertising to begin with,” George Felix, KFC’S director of advertising, told AListDaily. “Instead of running away from that, we run right toward it. We believe that our ability to poke fun at the conventions of typical advertising has given us credibility with millennials. We know the new brand positioning and advertising has put KFC back on the map.”

Cheesy Coutour

The cheesy, orange snack began offering Cheetos-inspired fashion this past holiday season that included Flamin Hot Pants, underwear, cuff links, a cheetah onesie and even a $20,000 sapphire ring.

“The Cheetos brand is always looking for fun ways to engage with our consumers beyond snacking with programs that are an extension of the playful brand personality we are known for,” Ryan Matiyow, senior director of marketing for Frito-Lay, the parent company of Cheetos, told AListDaily.

You Dew You

Last year, Mountain Dew partnered with youth culture fashion brand VFiles to celebrate the history of camouflage. “Camo Out” is a collection of smart clothes that include a hat, Bluetooth jacket, solar-powered backpack, as well as jackets and pants with built-in headphones.

“When the brand is at its best, it’s constantly innovating, instigating and pushing the culture in a meaningful way for all of our fans—they expect it from us,” Stinson Parks, Mountain Dew’s digital marketing manager, told AListDaily.

The collection debuted during New York Fashion Week 2016, with models wearing the tech-infused clothes on the runway. A month later, an interactive exhibit featuring Camo Out was featured during ComplexCon in Los Angeles.