KitKat and Riot's collaboration has grown into one of the most major non-endemic collaborations in esports, and it is an outstanding example of the benefits of a full-service, story and value driven marketing approach.
The potential for non-endemic brands in esports and gaming is vast, yet surprisingly untapped. However, a global player has been causing a stir in the esports universe for some time.
With the help of the esports agency build a rocket and sports marketer SPORTFIVE, KitKat launched its first foray into Esports in 2020, collaborating with the most prestigious esports competition in Europe: The League of Legends European Championship (LEC) by game publisher Riot Games.
KitKat and Riot’s collaboration has grown into one of the most major non-endemic collaborations in esports, and it is an outstanding example of the benefits of a full-service, story and value driven marketing approach.
KitKat’s journey towards the esports universe
KitKat made the decision to concentrate its efforts on the esports and gaming markets two years ago. Esports’ rapid rise provided an ideal opportunity to revitalize the brand’s perception and remain relevant for younger generations, as well as boosting the brand’s association with their key communication “Have a Break, have a KitKat.”
The primary purpose of the brand’s long-term engagement in esports is interacting with the audience by providing genuine value to the community. Authenticity is key – especially in esports. As a result, a defined and sustainable strategy was developed for KitKat in which the community is reached in a media-appropriate and authentic manner across all key channels.
Partnership with Europe’s top esports leagues
After initial pilots with Riot, the iconic chocolate brand became a long-term partner of the LEC and EU Masters, Europe’s largest League of Legends competitions. Furthermore, KitKat partnered up with the LCL and 12 European regional leagues.
In order to secure a strong impact on brand visibility as well as reaching a pan-European audience, KitKat has been fully integrated into the LEC broadcasts. A brand as large as KitKat becoming a primary partner of one of the world’s leading esports leagues involves a significant commitment. The campaign’s assets had to be positioned throughout the LEC experience, establishing valuable touchpoints, and making the campaign as engaging as possible. KitKat changes the perspective of breaks during matches and makes them more valuable for fans, using the breaks to bringing fan activations, raffles, and entertaining moments to life.
By partnering with several regional leagues, it allows each market to work collaboratively with the local Riot Games teams whilst also providing a valuable opportunity to test and learn on the best way to integrate KitKat into future esports competitions.
This, however, was not the only integration used to market the brand to the esports audience. “Hextech Chests,” which are in-game loot boxes containing random digital items, are a key part of the game’s meta, assisting players in identifying with the game.
The customized KitKat Hextech Chests were introduced as part of Riot and KitKat’s collaboration: Chests imprinted with a unique KitKat design. As a result, not only was the brand interwoven into the broadcasts, but it was also embedded into the game itself.
“Even the biggest Champ needs a Break”
Developing a successful strategy required the construction of a compelling creative campaign that brought the assets to life, as well as the guarantee of delivering the activation for the brand.
KitKats slogan “Have a break, have a KitKat” is known all over the world. By combining the slogan with the main element of League of Legends – the champion – a single tagline was developed, uniting all of KitKat’s Gaming & Esports activations across markets.
On the one hand, there are the champions, which are the player-controlled characters in League of Legends, each with their own set of powers and qualities. On the other hand, the advantages of having a break from a tense situation is applicable to a wide range of difficult situations, particularly in esports, which involves focus and change of perspective to master the game.
“Even the biggest Champ needs a Break” is a campaign that is always being recognized by gamers and esports enthusiasts across game titles and esports platforms. In supporting commercials, KitKat is presented in its usual humorous fashion and manages to breathe positive emotions into situations that every gamer can identify with. Each KitKat gaming campaigns redefined these breaks to make them more valuable to fans by utilizing them for engagement activations, raffling prizes, and generating entertaining moments on social media.
All gaming & esports activations reflect KitKat‘s very own DNA: humorous, empathic and unpretentious. The accompanying content, which included TV commercials, memes, and content pieces, depicts typical gamer situations, and connects them to what the brand stands for: relaxing breaks. Especially in situations where gamers feel tilted: Have a Break, recharge your energy, come back refreshed and uplifted and regain a new perspective in order to perform in the game.
As part of the ongoing partnership, a dedicated gaming & esports channel on Twitter was launched (@KITKATGaming) with digital incentives being raffled to fans and encouraging followers to have a break.
Exclusive brand partnership with Playstation®5
The anchoring of KitKat in gaming was further driven by an exclusive partnership with PlayStation®5, supported by the global “One Break Away” campaign. Once again, breaks were infused with a positive context, telling a story that gamers can relate to. By combining the core aspects of each brand, an impactful campaign with relatable stories was developed including touchpoints that utilize the witty KitKat humor and tonality.
The key aspect of the campaign focused on unwinding from a stressful and tense situation of a game and having a break in order to come back refreshed. Breaks are communicated as a part of the game, an essential element that’s necessary to regain perspective and enhance the overall gaming experience.
Esports is here to stay!
This successful entry of a major non-endemic brand into the esports and gaming market underscores the role of expert service providers and agencies in the esports ecosystem. Understanding the brands at their core and identifying the values that the brand represents are crucial to the long-term success of both top-level strategies and activations. Only then bridges can be established that authentically link organizations to their desired target audience.
The results prove that the commitment to enter the esports ecosystem has paid off. KitKat taps into a growing audience that is affluent, digital, and young through a sustainable esports strategy coupled with authentic activations, while generating real value for the community. The work is not done yet – there are many interesting prospects for future campaigns, and KitKat has realized what we at build a rocket are adamant about: esports is here to stay!