Cannes Lions

Mastercard League of Legends Esports Sponsorship

MASTERCARD, New York / MASTERCARD / 2021

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Overview

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Overview

Background

In 2018, Mastercard entered a groundbreaking partnership with Riot Games’ League of Legends esports and has since grown its marketing platform to reach more fans year over year. Initially focusing on on-site activation during events, Mastercard’s strategy evolved to encompass not only engaging with fans onsite but also online, leveraging the digital connectivity of the League of Legends audience year-round to build always-on fan engagement. In 2020, as the world moved into lockdown and physical activations were no longer possible, Mastercard shifted its focus to digital only and executed ambitious activations that put the fans at the center and brought them closer to their passion during these unprecedented times. The main objectives were to (1) drive awareness of the partnership via the @MastercardNexus Twitter handle, (2) build differentiation by providing value to the League community through Priceless.com, and (3) drive scale to truly tap into the global audience.

Idea

The League of Legends World Championship is the marquee tournament in League of Legends esports and is the most watched esports tournament in the world. 2020 marked its 10-Year Anniversary and represented an evolution not only of the event itself, but of the sport as a whole and everything players and fans have accomplished. To celebrate this important milestone, Mastercard put the spotlight on the fans who are the reason why League of Legends continues to be the most played and watched esport in the world. To thank them for everything they’ve done to elevate the esport and to recognize them for their contribution over the past decade, Mastercard launched the ‘Thank the Fans’ campaign on the day of the finals. Over the course of 10 hours, Mastercard celebrated the past 10 years of the esport by releasing Priceless digital experiences, exclusive items and in-game digital goods on Priceless.com.

Strategy

The core of Mastercard’s strategy is centered around the idea that every League of Legends fan has invested in the success of their passion’s meteoric rise. To engrain Mastercard into the heart of the community, the brand aims to recognize the investment made by the fans and to reward them for their contributions. As such, to celebrate the significance of the 2020 World Championship, Mastercard pushed out an ambitious activation plan that celebrated the power of the community with rewards that suited a variety of needs. This approach included Priceless experiences for fans to interact with key personalities, a bespoke Worlds capsule collection with gaming apparel company CLOAK, an exclusive content series highlighting the best plays in the esport, and in-game rewards for watching the broadcast. All efforts were amplified on the @MastercardNexus Twitter handle, which also served as the hub for constant fan interaction and engagement.

Execution

On the day of the Worlds final, Mastercard announced its ‘Thank the Fans’ campaign by airing a 30” ad spot that featured Sjokz, the lead personality in the sport, on broadcast and Twitter. The ad drove fans to Priceless.com where over the course of 10 hours Mastercard celebrated the past 10 years of League of Legends esports by releasing its first capsule collection with items selling for $10 each, as well as complimentary Priceless digital experiences and digital goods on a first come, first serve basis. Each hour unlocked new digital goods and digital experiences with pro players, on-air talent, and influencers, all of which were thoughtfully curated to appeal to the diverse passions of the League of Legends audience. The Priceless.com offerings began to unlock at 6AM EST when the finals kicked off, focusing on AP specific talent and languages, followed by Europe, North America and finally Latin America.

Outcome

As part of the 'Thank the Fans' initiative on Priceless.com, there was an 82x increase compared to the rest of the month. During this initiative, 75% of total Priceless.com visitors were new to the site and from 83 different countries worldwide.

During Worlds, engagement via Twitter was also extremely high, as @MastercardNexus posts received +55% increase in organic impressions and posts gained an engagement rate of +218% compared to 2019, at an average of 4.1% in 2020 vs 3.2% in 2019. Exceeding Mastercard's expectations, Worlds activity resulted in +89% Twitter follower growth and Mastercard received +76% unique mentions than the next most mentioned brand sponsor during Worlds.

Engagement with content on Twitter was high, resulting in a +315% increase in video completions, despite media spend decreasing by 15% from 2019 to 2020. Also, there was +500% increase in video completion rate, increasing from 3% to 18% from 2019 to 2020.

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