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BRANDmate Showcases Expansion in Gaming image

BRANDmate Showcases Expansion in Gaming

By Mark Seavy

While entertainment and toy IPs remained central to the recent BRANDmate show in Germany, the gaming, eSports, and anime categories made significant new inroads.

One major topic across panel discussions at BRANDmate was eSports. eSports organization G2, which operates 12 teams across various leagues including League of Legends and Call of Duty, is readying a co-branded lifestyle apparel collection with Warner Bros. Discovery’s Batman for launch in August. It has had similar licensing deals for Warner Bros. Discovery’s Joker as well as with Ralph Lauren for apparel.

Yet despite progress with licensors throughout Europe, the challenge remains to convince major retailers to carry eSports products in their stores, said Erwin del Castillo, Head of Consumer Products at G2, which sells much of its licensed merchandise via eCommerce.

“We have collaborated with these brands to get into a more mainstream audience but that has proven to be a challenge,” said del Castillo, who attended BRANDmate and met with European retailers like Takko and Kaufland. “It is harder to break into retailers because there is still education that needs to happen around retailers carrying eSports consumer products. Retailers are sticking with the product they have sold for decades and for [the most part] they are not carrying anything that they are not 100% confident will fly off the shelves.”

The success of one aspect of eSports, and gaming in general, that is not in doubt is the power of gamification. Gamification—the addition of game-like elements to activities to increase consumer participation and engagement—is something many brand owners and retailers hope to take advantage of moving forward.

G2, for example, forged agreements with Kellanova’s Pringles snack and Nestle’s Kit Kat candy brands. G2 worked to develop a Pringles game in which players “catch” falling chips and there is also a Pringles “racing” game.

And Germany-based beauty products supplier Cosnova also has plans to further expand its business via gaming, said Lucie Lagerwerf, Senior Digital Brand Experience Manager at Cosnova. It launched its Essence brand (blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow palettes) on Roblox last year in the first step toward forging ties with gaming.

“Color Dare by Essence” launched on the gaming platform featuring the character Lash Princess and with a focus on themes of identity and diversity. The result has been consumers interacting with the Essence brand on Roblox for an average of six minutes, Lagerwerf said. In North America, Cosnova’s Essence and Caprice brands are sold through Ulta Beauty and about 300 Target stores.

“The [Essence] branding is subtle and doesn’t distract from gameplay, so it makes sense to expand on this,” Lagerwerf said. “We are looking to continue to develop the gameplay and see how we can activate it. For the younger consumers, they might interact [with the Essence game] without prior knowledge of the brand and get their first contact with it [through Roblox].”

Anime streaming company Crunchyroll (Dragonball Z, Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, and others) and Bandai Namco (Gundam, Cowboy Bebop and others) attended BRANDmate for the first time. In addition to a growing focus on anime, a number of major entertainment names like Hasbro, Mattel, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Universal also had a presence at the event.

Warner Bros. Discovery highlighted the upcoming Superman film (2025) that will be the first movie in the new DC Universe and a reboot of the franchise. For its part, Universal was marketing the upcoming Wicked: Part 1 film that is slated to be released November 27 (with Part 2 due a year later). The studios’ presence was matched by entertainment company RTL Deutschland, production firm Studio 100 International, as well as book and board games publisher Kosmos.

“BRANDmate brings new brands together and with a little bit of a different mindset for trade shows,” G2’s del Castillo said. “It is not just about the usual suspects of licensing because there are retailers and brands that are trying out new approaches.”

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