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GMR Launches Esports Practice

Next month, tens of thousands of people will descend on Berlin for the League of Legends 2015 World Championship Final—an event that sold out the 17,000 seat Mercedes-Benz Arena in a mere 3 minutes. Last year, the tournament drew an online audience of twenty-seven million—more than both the World Series and NBA Finals.

These numbers provide a glimpse into the booming popularity of esports, a team-based branch of competitive gaming provoking many brand marketers to rethink how they’re spending sponsorship dollars. They are also inspiring the launch of a new esports practice within GMR.

According to CEO Cameron Parsons, the rise of esports represents an increasing shift in consumer behavior that has many marketers questioning old approaches of trying to reach young audiences.

Helping brands navigate new territory

“As millennials continue to trade traditional mediums like television for digital, mobile and social engagement, esports offers a massive marketing platform authentic to how this consumer audience lives, communicates and pursues their passions,” says Parsons. “GMR’s esports practice will help brands navigate uncharted opportunities to reach and influence esports fans, teams, competitors and tournaments.”

With a full roster of global tournaments and a following of 205 million people across 152 countries, there’s a lot of influencing to be done. GMR’s esports practice blends decades of experiential, digital, creative and strategic expertise in the gaming space. It is intended to meet the demands of brands that want to reach young, digitally-minded consumers through integration into esports competitions, teams, media and game design.

According to Parsons, that demand is growing.

Longtime GMR client Microsoft recently adopted GMR as an agency partner for esports in the U.S. GMR provides Microsoft’s U.S. Xbox Marketing Team with esports consultation and program management on the blockbuster franchise Gears of War.

GMR has worked with a broad range of leaders in the gaming space like Comcast over the past decade. The agency has planned, managed and executed strategic gaming sponsorships across the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.

“While it’s not hard to find digital generations, truly having a measurable impact on them is another story,” says Parsons. “Esports sponsorships have to be vetted very differently than traditional sports sponsorships. GMR’s esports practice is rooted in a unique understanding of esports, the digital landscape, consumer behavior and what it takes for sponsors to have a lasting impact.”

GMR's global esports practice will be headquartered in the U.S., with key hubs across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific.

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