Professional gamers rejoice. E-sports is getting a nice endorsement from one of the world’s biggest brands, Coca-Cola. The folks at Coke are hosting the e-sports Game-a-thon 1.0 at the soda giant’s headquarters in Atlanta, and Amazon’s Twitch division will livestream the gameplay of a handful of pro gamers who will compete in the event on Monday.
Twitch will begin streaming the event at 1 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, as four players square off against each other in various “mystery games” selected by Coca-Cola. The event is meant to show that Coca-Cola is hip to the rising phenomenon of e-sports, where people play hardcore titles against each other for money and prizes. In this case, the five rivals will compete to win a big prize for charity. The five games will be a surprise for the participants. They’ll play for four hours, and the winner will donate money to charity.
“We are interested in gaming,” said Matt Wolf, head of global gaming for Coca-Cola, in an interview with GamesBeat. “It’s big. We know it. We’re being smart and focused about how we approach it. As we head into the end of the year, this opportunity with our friends at Twitch is a great way for us to cap off the year with a great on-site production. We can give back to the players and to a charity for the holidays.”
Kevin Lin, chief operating officer at Twitch, said in an interview that Coca-Cola came to Twitch because it isn’t easy to reach gamers. They play for a couple of hours a day or more, and they don’t consume as much traditional media where big brands advertise. Twitch can help put Coca-Cola in touch with a large audience, as it has 60 million monthly active users. This is why Amazon bought Twitch for $970 million.
But the big brands have to be careful moving into the space. If they don’t do it in an authentic way, they can do some damage to themselves, Wolf said.
“Matt’s challenge to us was how can Coke embrace not just the hardcore of e-sports but gaming culture more broadly in a good, authentic way,” Lin said. “They want to establish Coke as a brand wholeheartedly and not just as a small piece within Twitch. This is a cool and fun angle that brings a lot of our community people together in a way that has a fun component and a charity component. Our job at Twitch is to help brands like Coca-Cola come into this space and understand it.”
Lin said, “A lot of these gamers have shunned traditional media. They have completely replaced that with watching Twitch. It’s important to know what type of messaging works with them.”
The participants in the event include Twitch network content director Jon Carnage; Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico, Frag Doll e-sports player and e-sports host; League of Legends pro gamer Voyboy; Twitch broadcaster and player The Justin Flynn; and Twitch broadcaster Swiftor.
“It’s a perfect match between the two brands as we make our way into the gaming space, e-sports, and livestreaming broadcasts,” Wolf said. “We want to bring our own flavor and speak to this audience through our brand. It’s about being humble and understanding the markets we move into. We need best of breed partners to make sure we deliver quality content and authentic content that resonates with that core.
“A fifth of the world plays games for an hour a day or more,” Wolf continued. “We look forward to continuing with our gaming community for a long time. We are doing this at our headquarters. We want people at Coca-Cola to understand more about what these games are and how people consume them.”