HP is connecting its Omen PC gaming brand with esports fans through a number of new sponsorships. The traditional Silicon Valley tech giant first dipped its toes into esports through sponsorships of teams like Vitality in France and RNG in China. More recently, Omen by HP signed on as the official hardware partner for the upcoming summer Gfinity Challenger Series and Gfinity Elite Series, following a test sponsor of a Gfinity CS:GO Invitational last fall.
Josh Kocurek, global marketing manager for gaming and esports, told AListDaily that the company’s exploration of esports started around the same time it started to take gaming more seriously.
“We’ve been dabbling in the gaming space for awhile, but it wasn’t until we established Omen that we figured out we needed to approach marketing differently and esports became a part of the discussion over a year ago,” Kocurek said. “We’ve had Team Vitality and Team RNG sponsorships for over a year now, but it wasn’t until six or seven months ago that we sat down and figured out a strategy on how to approach esports and fold it into what we’re doing with growing the Omen brand.”
That Omen brand actually has a backstory. Back in September 2006, HP acquired Canadian custom-built PC company VoodooPC. After releasing some products under that line, the brand fizzled out.
“When we looked at establishing something new, we looked at what had been done with Voodoo with the tribal icon in the branding,” Kocurek explained. “We needed a fresh, clean approach to the new brand, but we did tie it back to Voodoo for PC gamers to connect with.”
HP is entering the PC gaming space after companies like Dell and its Alienware brand, Razer and Asus have established themselves.
“What differentiates us from our competition is that we’re HP,” Kocurek said. “At our core, we are one of the leading desktop and laptop manufacturers in the world. We bring tons of knowledge and expertise from being around for many years and being a big player in the tech space. We have all the resources to deploy against the initiatives we’re tackling in the gaming space. Our team has a long history of working in the games industry and we’re passionate about working in the esports space. This makes us a force to be reckoned with based on goals we’ve set for ourselves in the gaming space.”
There are multiple leagues in the esports space today, but Kocurek said HP decided to partner with U.K.-based Gfinity because a big pillar the company is resting the Omen brand on is to grow the esports industry in a positive way.
“Gfinity explained the Elite Series and the Challenger Series, which is creating an environment where fans who admire pro gamers have the opportunity to work their way through the progression system to potentially be on the stage sitting next to the pros they admire,” Kocurek said. “Gfinity has done a great job making esports accessible and available to everyone. We want to work with them to get as much attention and exposure as possible.”
Part of that marketing plan will come through content creation and sitting down with players and pushing those interviews out through social media channels and getting a conversation started online.
“Esports is appealing to Omen by HP because we’re looking for places where we can come in and tell engaging, emotional stories to an audience that wants to hear and learn more about these pros,” Kocurek said.
The Gfinity series will feature Omen gaming desktops and HP will integrate Gfinity into Omen product launches in European regions.
“Later this year we’ll refresh our desktops and laptops because it’s important for people to see Omen continue to remain successful in this space with new products released annually,” Kocurek said. “We’re working with Gfinity to ensure that these competitions are running at the top caliber level.”
Gfinity has an esports Arena in London and the goal is to grow these series across other regions of the world over time.
“My role is at the global level, so we’re working with Gfinity to establish a strong presence and see where we can take this to other places in the world,” Kocurek said.
Kocurek said when he first started talking to teams around the world, the environment they practice in at gaming houses wasn’t at the same professional level as when they were competing in ESL, Intel Extreme Masters or League of Legends Championship Series events.
“When working with teams we want to make sure we create an environment as close as possible to the real league play environment so they can focus more on strategy and communication and all the things it takes to win in competition,” Kocurek said.
And from branding perspective, Kocurek wants Omen by HP to be a present force when these teams are telling stories.
“We want our products and brand to be visible when they’re doing interviews and streaming and practicing,” Kocurek added.