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BMW signs with multiple esports teams in ‘milestone’ alliance

Luxury car brand BMW has signed sponsorship agreements with five of the world’s leading esports teams.

The teams are Cloud 9 (US), Fnatic (UK), Funplus Phoenix (China), G2 Esports (Germany) and T1 (South Korea). Each team comprises up to 200 players.

The focus of the sponsorship is on the League of Legends title, but competition entries involving other titles such as Dota 2, FIFA, Fortnite or Rocket League, will also be supported and promoted by BMW.

Jens Thiemer, senior vice-president of customer and brand at BMW, said esports showcase how sports entertainment can continue “to thrive and play a key role” in today’s challenging environment.

He said: “Our entry into esports is motivated by a commitment to become a sustainable, global partner, supporting the teams and the discipline as a whole, before, during and after these times of uncertainty.

“Joining forces with the best teams in the world, we aim to use our design and innovation skills to help shape the discipline in the long term.

“Our esports involvement is an important milestone providing, for the first time, a new inter-sectionality with a dynamic and fast-growing community.

“We consider esports a promising, growing addition to our marketing activities, helping BMW on its journey to becoming an emotive brand people relate to.”

Thiemer added that the brand’s long-term goal is to grow the team portfolio into “true household names within the general sports and entertainment industry”.

In terms of the sponsorship’s activation, the campaign will run under the mottoes ‘United in Rivalry’ and ‘United at Home’.

Using the #unitedinrivalry hashtag on social media channels and various streaming platforms, the teams will challenge each other and cross-promote the sponsorship before tournaments. The #unitedathome activations will promote activities within each team.

Activation rights will also allow for the creation of original liveries on team vehicles, designed jointly by BMW and the teams, combining motifs drawn in comic-book style with each organisation’s logo.

There is also a tech-sharing component with BMW sharing the expertise of its engineers and designers to help develop gaming-related hardware and software products.

The BMW brand has been involved in esports since 2017, when it first signed as an official partner of the European League of Legends finals in Paris. It also set up its own race simulation game with a live final – BMW SIM LIVE – at the BMW Welt in Munich in 2019.

From the team perspective, the deal with Cloud 9 is a global expansion of an existing automotive sponsorship signed by BMW with the team in March 2019.

The T1 Entertainment & Sports (T1) deal was facilitated by the sports marketing agency Lagardère Sports, the exclusive commercial agent for the Korean team.