American League of Legends team the Immortals has signed its first non-endemic sponsorship deal with MeUndies, a California startup that makes underwear, socks and t-shirts. It’s the latest in a series of marketing partnerships between non-gaming brands and the burgeoning eSports industry.
“We’re big fans of eSports, and have been following its growth in viewership for the past couple years,” Greg Fass, head of partnerships and influencer marketing at MeUndies, said. “We knew that being comfortable was of utmost importance while gaming, and saw a natural alignment with our extremely comfortable underwear and loungewear. Once we found out how much the top players loved the product, it was a no-brainer to get involved on a deeper level. Not to mention, most brands in eSports are currently technology and gaming related—no mainstream clothing brands are in this space yet.
Noah Whinston, CEO of the Immortals, said MeUndies was already a brand his players knew and liked, so deciding to extend into a deeper partnership was an easy choice.
“We prioritize partnerships where we’re aligned with the brand values of our sponsors,” Whinston said. “ESports fans can spot inauthentic advertising a mile away, and the best way to sound excited about a partnership is to be authentically excited about it.”
Taking into account both fans of the individual players and overall brand, the Immortals has more than 2 million social followers, more than 10 million monthly impressions and millions of monthly unique viewers on livestreams. Whinston said a huge piece of the value his team provides partners is utilizing their social channels to reach their fan base, as well as assisting in message optimization.
Fass looks at this sponsorship as more of a partnership. He said MeUndies and the Immortals will work together to come up with content that supports everybody, including videos, purchase links, supporting logos and other collaborative ideas.
“We will be looking to also promote the team’s journey up to and through the League of Legends World Championship in LA this October,’ Fass said. “Above all, we will make sure they are always comfortable and unrestricted with plenty of MeUndies product.”
This partnership kicked off with a humorous ‘80s-style video in which the players talk about their love of the product.
“It’s important to strike a balance between being fun and taking ourselves seriously,” Whinston said. “We do want to be able to display the humor of an underwear sponsorship, but we also want to display the professionalism and talent throughout our roster.”
Fass said there are many collaborative and creative ways to get the product in front of eSports audiences despite the discreet branding and product category.
“Creating original content like the video we released and social media initiatives are just two of the ways to show your brand’s product and personality without being gaming specific,” Fass said. “No longer are sponsorships limited to technology products like headphones or monitors.”
Whinston believes there’s tremendous opportunity for non-endemic brands in eSports, but it’s essential that companies enter the scene with an underlying respect for the fan base and a partner well-equipped to help guide them through the ecosystem.
“To be honest, we weren’t looking for an official team sponsorship at first,” Fass said. “One of the players on the Immortals, Huni, tweeted out that he didn’t like to wear underwear. Being big fans and followers of Huni, we saw an opportunity to change his mind with MeUndies. One thing led to the next, and the entire Immortals crew ended up loving the brand and our product. Recognizing the mutual admiration, a team sponsorship was the obvious next step.”
“With social media we’ve found it’s been most effective when we find ways to sell without selling,” Fass said. “Our goal is to create compelling content that’s not necessarily tied to a product but that’s fun and reflects the brand voice. People appreciate authentic and relatable companies.”
With over 1 billion gamers around the world aware of eSports, according to Newzoo, MeUndies is the first, but certainly won’t be the last, clothing company to tap into this growing market.