Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) signed a multi-year deal with former three-time NBA champion Rick Fox’s team. Echo Fox will use Asus ROG PC hardware, including desktops, laptops, monitors, mice, and more. In addition, Asus ROG appears on the official Echo Fox jerseys for teams in the Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Gears of War, League of Legends, H1Z1, Mortal Kombat X, Street Fighter V and Super Smash Bros. leagues. The sponsorship also includes Echo Fox player content for the ROG community.

Asus North America chief marketing officer, Vivian Lien, told [a]listdaily that the company started the Republic of Gamers brand back in 2006 because it saw gaming was an important part of the PC experience. 

“We’ve been watching eSports from the very beginning,” Lien said. “It started out stronger in Asia Pacific than in Europe or North America. Several years back, we ventured into working with the teams and trying to get an understanding of how to become a meaningful part of the community. We know a lot of players through our grassroots efforts and we know what is important when a sponsor like Asus comes onto the picture.”

Lien added that this deal with Echo Fox is part of a new strategy for the company, which is looking for the right opportunity in working with teams and players to offer something to the gaming community as a whole.

“A few years back, we sponsored a few teams in North America and some other offices (around the globe) have also sponsored teams. But over the past two years, Echo Fox is the first officially sponsored team in North America. And there are a lot more to come.”

Lien said each of these new deals will encapsulate a multi-year strategy. Asus is taking these partnerships seriously with a lot of due diligence going into who they’ll partner with and how they want to work together.

“We want a team or franchise that covers different types of games,” Lien said. “Under our ROG umbrella, we have a number of product lines like monitors, laptops and mice and a team with broad appeal is important. We really put a lot of emphasis on teams that are taking the right approach with managing players in the eSports community as part of an on-going collaboration with a brand like us.”

Lien said Asus takes a different approach when investing in eSports.

“A lot of the time, when companies look at sponsorships, they look at a way to reach the targeted audience,” Lien said. “We take a step back and look from the players’ point-of-view to explore what they want to play, what hardware they identify with and what they believe will give them a competitive edge. The right hardware can be as simple as the form and fit and feeling comfortable, all the way down to the technology inside that gives players the edge in practice and competition.”

Asus is working with Echo Fox players to help design future hardware. “We want their honest and authentic feedback when it comes to our products,” Lien said. “What’s unique about Asus is that we do a lot of design and engineering from a component level, so those are the types of engagement we’ll be incorporating in future products.”

Echo Fox will also help connect the brand directly with its massive global audience. “We welcome their input on the way we should be interacting with the community,” Lien said. “It’s a two-way street. They know what gamers are looking for. We want them to tell us both the good and bad.”

Social media will play an important role in the long-term marketing strategy of this partnership.

“They have a very loyal following when the messages are delivered in that unique Echo Fox style, which is when the results are best from a marketing perspective,” Lien said. “We give them a lot of flexibility by giving them our objectives and let them help us accomplish that goal without taking away that authentic Echo Fox voice.”

Lien said Asus doesn’t want to come into eSports as an advertiser or sponsor and force feed messages. “Marketing has to come from a context that makes sense and is relevant because that’s how you reach the eSports audience,” Lien said.

One thing that Echo Fox brings to the table is the celebrity of Fox, who has had success in both the sports and entertainment verticals.

“Rick is enthusiastic about gaming and passionate about what he’s doing with Echo Fox,” Lien said. “His ownership, along with other current and past NBA players, helps validate eSports as a real sport. There’s still a lot of misconception out there about gaming and stereotypes, and having Rick out there promoting eSports legitimizes it as a sport and offers best practices in this arena.”

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