Dive Brief:

Non-profit breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen is launching its first video game-based fundraising campaign, according to information provided to Marketing Dive. The campaign launches on Dec. 3, this year’s date for Giving Tuesday, and is built around Fortnite Creative, one of the mode versions inside the popular online video game Fortnite.  
The campaign includes a livestreamed speedrun, a gaming term that refers to playing through a game as quickly as possible and recording the gameplay and related commentary for others to watch. During the livestream on Twitch and YouTube, gaming influencers BrookeAB, Symfuhny, SypherPK, and TheFortniteGuy will use a custom-built map and challenge viewers to donate, beat their speedrun time and join the fight against breast cancer.
The effort is titled “Ribbon Race” and was created in partnership with brand engagement agency RedPeg.

Dive Insight:

Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure fundraising walks have been a mainstay of the non-profit for years. This year, the organization is taking a digital approach to make the experience accessible to anyone anywhere. While gaming and esports are still relatively unexplored in the philanthropy sector, the organization decided to undertake a campaign to reach this rapidly growing community in order to connect with a new group of potential supporters, Senior Vice President for Development Christina Alford said in a statement.

Consultancy NJ Games estimates the esports audience will total around 380 million in 2019, a growth rate of 14% year-over-year. By 2021, the audience could reach 557 million — of which more than one-third are women. These numbers have caught the attention of brands, with global revenues from competitive video gaming expected to hit $1.1 billion this year from ads, sponsorships and media rights, representing a 27% increase since last year, according to some projections. Research suggests that, so far at least, gamers are open to brands getting in on the fun. 

There are a number of marketing opportunities in esports and, as the Susan G. Komen campaign suggests, there are openings for a wide range of brands to get in front of this audience, with first-movers likely to gain a strategic advantage. The brands jumping in include State Farm, a sponsor of the esports tournament Universal Open Rocket League, and Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette, which teamed with livestreaming video platform Twitch to form the Gillette Gaming Alliance for creating esports content.

Additionally, Red Bull teamed up with pro gamer Ninja on a campaign that included limited-edition cans and a fan contest, Unilever’s Axe partnered with esports company Eleague and Anheuser-Busch filed for esports-related trademarks that declare it as the “Official Beer of Esports.”

These and many other examples show that brands — especially consumer brands — see esports as a bandwagon they should join. Now, with Susan G. Komen trying to reach the same audience, the question is whether charities can similarly benefit from an alliance with the booming industry.