BMW’s “He Is Nothing Like You Are” Is Esports Marketing At Its Best
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
A lot of esports marketing videos rate somewhere on the scale of “Passable to the mainstream” to “Why did you even bother.” TSM players slot into the roles of celebrities and are nothing more than faces for Dr. Pepper, and the Overwatch League manages to create an ad involving a single car, their parking lot, and no scriptwriters after realizing at the last minute that their Toyota sponsorship requires they do something.
Back in March BMW partnered with esports team Cloud9 and released a promo image of C9 CEO Jack Etienne with several of his players posing in front of a BMW with the caption ‘It’s character that drives performance.’ The team had the automaker’s logo embroidered onto the left shoulder of their jerseys, and shortly after the announcement Etienne tweeted a short video stating they had shot some commercials.
On August 19th the collaboration released its third video, following two highlighting the team’s general manager Gaylen and competitive Overwatch player Aspen. Both of the prior two spots are around 45 seconds in length and feature distorted, quickly-edited visuals accompanied by voiceover from the women themselves that speak to the aspects of their personality that allow them to be successful in esports. The third now features Sneaky, the bottom lane player on Cloud9’s League of Legends team which will be competing in the LCS Summer Finals in Detroit on August 25th and the World Championship later this year. This spot differs from the past two, as it includes some more overt references to esports, Sneaky sitting behind a computer, footage from tournaments played in the background, and VO not only about Sneaky himself but about sports and performance in general. Additionally it is the only one so far that features footage of a car being driven, as opposed to shots of a player merely surrounding the car; Based on this I’m assuming that this is the leader of these adverts, and would be the one ad space is purchased for.
Sneaky is uniquely positioned to be featured in one of these spots as he has a hobby no other esports player does; cross-dressing cosplay. At the end of the spot this is shown by alternating rapidly between a shot of him in his jersey, and one in an outfit, finishing on the opening shot of him in the car but sporting the alternate wardrobe. In this moment the bridge between the concept the ad is trying to convey and its main character are intertwined, as it fully drives home the idea that looks are not indicative of success; not only that, but it does so honestly. The important takeaway is that last one, as authenticity is everything in esports. By grounding this narrative into a reality by attaching itself to Sneaky it can persist beyond a simple video spot.
To contrast that it’s important to note that there are some aspects of the ad that are strange, mainly the part where Sneaky is sitting in the passenger’s seat of a car and looking at a laptop in his lap for some reason. Not only that, but if someone were trying to replicate this concept its important to respect the wishes of a player and their own privacy, should they not want to share something. But, with that slight bit of hokeyness aside, I’d confidently say that this is the direction that esports sponsorships should be heading in, by aligning brands with teams and players that share ideals and can accentuate one another, as opposed to reducing them to pretty faces.