In February 2021, when much of the world was mid-lockdown and many of us were angsty over our increasing screen time, Serbian teen Tai ‘TaySon’ Starčič was busy taking his love and skills playing the game Fortnite to the next level.
The 16-year-old, who had already amassed $200,000 (€168,000) of winnings from 28 high-profile events, signed to David Beckham’s professional Esports team, Guild. Less than six months later, he’s already been part of a transfer deal to a Saudi Arabian-based team for $115,000 (€97,000).
If those figures don’t give you pause for thought before you set additional limits on your children’s gaming, consider this: according to DCF intelligence almost 40% of the world’s population are now spending their leisure time playing online. And for eight hours and 27 minutes on average each week.
It’s a tantalisingly lucrative market, estimated to be worth $159 billion in 2020. And according to a recent report by marketing consultants Simon Kucher, 39% of players are ready to spend in the in-game space.
But here’s the rub – the online player community can be hard to reach and if your brand tries to market to them without knowledge of the game or its community’s etiquette, then it’s rare that you’ll get a second chance to market to them again.
Matteo Trichilo works in our start-up division ICNOW (Ice Cream NOW). He and the team are dedicated to finding opportunities for ice cream in the on-demand delivery space. And fortunately for ICNOW, and for Unilever, Matteo is a dedicated gamer. “I’ve always loved playing video games. They’ve been a great influence in my life – even though my parents were not always supportive,” he says. “I got my first Gameboy when I was six and spent long hours working to become a Pokémon trainer. But in 2001 I found my favourite game – Halo, and 20 years later, I still play,” he says.
For Matteo it was a natural extension of his personal passion for gaming to look at marketing opportunities in the space. “I decided to do my utmost to bring my passion for video games to my day job, because if you use your passion, you don’t consider what you do as work,” he says.
Working with the media team of Unilever’s gaming committee, UPLAY and ice cream brand Magnum, Matteo and ICNOW started to look at creating campaigns that would tap in the gaming world.