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Esports and fashion? A match made in marketing heaven



When luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton announced in September it would be partnering with Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championship to design in-game outfits and a trophy carrying case, many people were left scratching their heads. On the surface, high fashion and video games seem an unlikely pairing. But as esports continues to shift from subculture to mainstream, I predict this is only the beginning of fashion-focused sponsorship deals in the esports world.

As marketers better understand the esports audience and their lifestyle, more brand collaborations not directly tied to the playing or production of esports are sure to follow suit. In fact, The Esports Observer reported that in the first quarter of 2019, there were 76 non-endemic sponsorship deals in esports (an increase of 145% from the previous quarter), including fashion brands like Champion, Puma, and New Era.

While the Louis Vuitton partnership may be the most lux foray of fashion into esports, it will not be the only fashion brand to make waves. Champion’s special release baseball style jerseys curated by NTWRK feature the logos of five esports teams, and were available for purchase via NTWRK or at Foot Locker stores. Andbox, in partnership with Mother Design and Public School, released a clothing line designed specifically for gamers to make them feel more like traditional sports fans..

As esports continues to gain traction and attract non-traditional brands into the fold, it will become increasingly important for marketers to understand how their industry can intersect with esports. For fashion brands, in particular, these are three key reasons why the integration of fashion and esports really does make sense:

1. Esports fans and games are diverse

There are a variety of misconceptions about the esports audience, with many people envisioning them as solely as gamers, usually young and male. Research from Mindshare NA shows that while over half of esports fans are millennials, 60 percent are between the ages of 25 and 39; many are parents; and 38 percent are women. And many of these fans are quite fashion conscious. While esports fans may have different passion points, they are the same kind of people fashion and other mainstream brands have been targeting for years. Once marketers understand this, a much broader world opens up to non-endemic brands looking to connect.

It’s important to point out that esports is not a “one size fits all” industry so digging deeper into the demographics and nuances associated with each game and league is necessary. For example, Fortnite reaches far and wide among ages and, increasingly, gender, while a game like Dota 2 has a smaller, more male audience. But with Newzoo forecasting that the global esports business will grow beyond $1.4 billion in 2020, more marketers should be willing to attempt the learning curve to determine which titles offer the most value for their brand.

2. Fashion works best when the integration is subtle

When taking a closer look at non-endemic brand partnerships, especially among fashion brands, they are more authentic when the branding is not as overt. When the branding is gently part of the activation, esports fans are more likely to buy into their relevance.

H&M is a great example of this. The brand launched a successful, challenge- based campaign featuring popular gamers that were dressed in H&M clothes from their new fall line. Louis Vuitton took a similar approach by blending its products into the gaming experience. Given the company’s rich history of creating trophy gear for sporting events, like the FIFA World Cup, the custom case they designed for League of Legends was believable to esports fans. In addition, the customized character skins added an element of luxury to League of Legends, which generates more viewers than most professional sports championships.

3. Esports influencers offer opportunity for fashion brands

The widespread influence of esport players cannot be underestimated. They are spending significant amounts of time engaging with their fans well beyond gameplay. In 2017, Twitch, the leading esports platform, saw influencer streamer accounts drive more Internet traffic than anyone except Google, Netflix, and Apple. Twitch users watch an average of 421 minutes per month, about 44 percent more than those who watch YouTube.

Through this and other platforms, esport competitors are able to build long-lasting fan relationships and credible content, which opens up a variety of opportunities for brands to create stronger connections in a community they would ordinarily not be able to access. Compare this to a traditional athlete that partners with a fashion brand — the only time fans interact with that athlete outside of a game day (when they’re not in the brands clothing) is when they decide to interact with their fans on social, resulting in a one-way conversation. Compare that to Twitch streamers and/or esports pros who can spend 8-12 hours per day with a camera on, in front of their fans interacting with them in real time. For a fashion brand it’s incredibly high value product placement set inside very engaging situations.

Fashion, in particular, offers influencers an authentic way to further enhance relationships with fans. As we see with H&M and Louis Vuitton, showcasing wares and accessories organically is a much more attractive approach than plastering logos all over the game. In addition, more and more athletic brands are creating apparel geared towards esports players or using players as ambassadors to extend reach to fans, following in the footsteps of traditional athletes creating their own lines. At the same time, it’s crucial to understand that there’s a wide range of esports influencers from professional players and streamers to media personalities and  presenters. That’s why it’s so important for brands to do their homework to identify which influencer will be the best fit.

What does the future look like?

The Louis Vuitton partnership may have been surprising, but it’s a powerful example of the potential that esports provides for many companies. And fashion may be the common thread that connects more and more nonendemic brands with the esport community in the most credible way. If integrated thoughtfully and authentically, there is an enormous potential for fashion, especially for those that have entered as early adopters.

Mike Murphy O’Reilly oversees Minute Media’s esports and gaming platform — DBLTAP. He handles everything from rights holder partnerships including leagues and teams to client engagement and execution. 


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The growth of cognitive search in the enterprise, and why it matters




Enterprises typically have countless data buckets to wrangle (upwards of 93% say they’re storing data in more than one place), and some of those buckets invariably become underused or forgotten. A Forrester survey found that between 60% and 73% of all data within corporations is never analyzed for insights or larger trends, while a separate Veritas report found that 52% of all information stored by organizations is of unknown value. The opportunity cost of this unused data is substantial — the Veritas report pegs it as a cumulative $3.3 trillion by the year 2020, if the current trend holds.

That’s perhaps why this year saw renewed interest from the corporate sector in AI-powered software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that ingest, understand, organize, and query digital content from multiple sources. “Keyword-based enterprise search engines of the past are obsolete. Cognitive search is the new generation of enterprise search that uses [AI] to return results that are more relevant to the user or embedded in an application issuing the search query,” wrote Forrester analysts Mike Gualtieri, Srividya Sridharan, and Emily Miller in a comprehensive survey of the industry published in 2017.

Emerging products

Microsoft kicked the segment into overdrive in early November by launching Project Cortex, a service that taps AI to automatically classify and analyze an organization’s documents, conversations, meetings, and videos. It’s in some ways a direct response to Google Cloud Search, which launched July 2018. Like Project Cortex, Cloud Search pulls in data from a range of third-party products and services running both on-premises and in the cloud, relying on machine learning to deliver query suggestions and surface the most relevant results. Not to be outdone, Amazon last week unveiled AWS Kendra, which taps a library of connectors to unify data sources, including file systems, websites, Box, DropBox, Salesforce, SharePoint, relational databases, and more.

Of course, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft aren’t the only cognitive search vendors on the block. There’s IBM, which offers a data indexing and query processing service dubbed Watson Explorer, and Coveo, which uses AI to learn users’ behaviors and return results that are most relevant to them. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s IDOL platform supports analytics for speech, images, and video, in addition to unstructured text. And both Lucidworks and Squirro leverage open source projects like Apache Solr and Elasticsearch to make sense of disparate data sets.

The cognitive search market is exploding — it’s anticipated to be worth $15.28 billion by 2023, up from $2.59 billion in 2018, according to Markets and Markets — and it coincides with an upswing in the adoption of AI and machine learning in the enterprise. But it’s perhaps more directly attributable to the wealth of telemetry afforded by modern corporate digital environments.

AI under the hood

AI models like those at the heart of AWS Kendra, Project Cortex, and Cloud Search learn from signals, or behavioral data derived from various inputs. These come from the web pages that employees visit or the videos they watch online, or their online chats with support agents and public databases of support tickets. That’s not to mention detailed information about users, including job titles, locations, departments, coworkers, and potentially all of the documents, emails, and other correspondences they author.

Each signal informs an AI system’s decision-making such that it self-improves practically continuously, automatically learning how various resources are relevant to each person and ranking those resources accordingly. Plus, because enterprises have far fewer data sources to contend with than, say, a web search engine, the models are less expensive and computationally time-consuming to train.

The other piece of the puzzle is natural language processing (NLP), which enables platforms like AWS Kendra to understand not only the document minutiae, but the search queries that employees across an organization might pose — like “How do I invest in our company’s 401k?” versus “What are the best options for my 401k plan?”

Not every platform is equally capable in this regard, but most incorporate emerging techniques in NLP, as well as the adjacent field of natural language search (NLS). NLS is a specialized application of AI and statistical reasoning that creates a “word mesh” from free-flowing text, akin to a knowledge graph, to connect similar concepts that are related to larger ideas. NLS systems understand context in this way, meaning they’ll return the same answer regardless of how a query is phrased and will take users to the exact spot in a record where that answer is likely to be found.

Cognitive search: the new normal

In short order, cognitive search stands to become table stakes in the enterprise. It’s estimated that 54% of knowledge workers are already interrupted a few times or more per month when trying to get access to answers, insights, and information. And the volume of unstructured data organizations produce is projected to increase in the years to come, exacerbating the findability problem.

“Productivity isn’t just about being more efficient. It’s also about aggregating and applying the collective knowledge of your organization so that together you can achieve more,” wrote Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro in a recent blog post. “[Cognitive search systems enable] business process efficiency by turning your content into an interactive knowledge repository … to analyze documents and extract metadata to create sophisticated content models … [and to] make it easy for people to access the valuable knowledge that’s so often locked away in documents, conversations, meetings, and videos.”


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Amazing Free Energy Generator Using Speaker Magnet 100% New Technology Science 2019



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Amazing Free Energy Generator Using Speaker Magnet 100% New Technology Science 2019

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Best board games in 2019: Mansions of Madness, Lord of the Rings and more




This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season’s best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

brand-new generation of video game consoles are expected to arrive next year, but that’s not much help when it comes to the 2019 holiday shopping season. 

Board games have undergone somewhat of a creative renaissance over the past couple of years, and while holiday season might be the time to blow the dust off classic games like chess, checkers, Clue or Monopoly, tabletop games have come a long way since the 20th century. Many games now involve intricate problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination or complex strategy. Others leave room for additional card expansion packs opening up new variations of rules and play styles. But the best board games aren’t just fun for children, they also present an exciting challenge for serious gamers.

The themes are, not surprisingly, often focused on Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy, sci-fi battles, zombie attacks and Lovecraftian supernatural high jinks. Some popular board games, such as the recent Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, combine miniature figures, map tiles and a highly polished tablet app that handles some of the card and combat management for you. 

Read more: Best tech toys for kids in 2019

So here are some of the best board games for 2019, any one of which can turn game night into an epic adventure with real competition to win. Feel ambitious and want to make your own extra accessories, game pieces or card holders with a 3D printer? We’ve got that covered, too.

Got your own suggestions? Let me know your board game picks in the comments or on Twitter.


The latest version of this zombie-filled game series takes the action of a far-off mining colony, where zombie-like aliens team up with big boss monsters straight out of Doom. One to six players fight back, usually by using their problem-solving skills to collect some McGuffins and make for the exit as swarms of xenos flood the map. This party game is great fun that’s easy to pick up and learn. 

Read more: Best gifts for 10-year-old girls in 2019

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The cult classic comic gets a great game packed with comic-style art, great miniatures and lots of storytelling. The more-expensive collector’s edition ups the number of minis past 100, and includes a great idea I’d love to see more often: a random mission generator for endless mix-and-match scenarios.


There have been a handful of Minecraft card and board games before, but this new one — revealed at Minecon 2019 — feels like the most ambitious yet. You actually mine for resources with tiny wooden blocks, and combine building with fighting mobs. 

Read more: Best gifts for dad in 2019

Fantasy Flight Games

It’s time to get the fellowship back together. This is a great game for joining up with four other players (or just as a solo player) to go tromping across Middle-Earth by moving cool-looking sculpted miniatures around map tiles. There’s a free, but mandatory, app available on iOS, Android and via Steam, which tells you how to lay out the map tiles and which monsters to fight. It also provides for a certain amount of randomization. It also provides for a certain amount of randomization to challenge even the most thought-through strategies and skills. Built from the ground up as an app-based board game, it makes it easy to get set up and learn the ropes. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Another giant-box game. This is one of my favorites because it includes tons of floor tiles you can use to create a haunted mansion, plus dozens of plastic miniatures for investigators and monsters. The vibe is definitely classic Lovecraft, and this board game actually requires you to use its companion app, which creates the layout, spawns monsters and even adds sound effects. 

Dan Ackerman

I’ve been playing an early version of this Universal Monsters-inspired game, which hit stores at the beginning of August. It’s a fun mix of nostalgia and modern tabletop games, pitting players against all the classic Universal movie monsters of the 1940s and ’50s, from the Wolf Man to Dracula. Just don’t accidentally call Frankenstein’s Monster “Frankenstein,” or I’ll subtweet you. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The best Star Wars game I’ve played in years isn’t a video game — it’s this fun and challenging tabletop strategy game, where rebel heroes fight through various skirmishes with Imperial forces. There’s a fantastic companion app that not only teaches you how to play, but handles the storytelling and enemy placement, too, so you don’t have to guess. The miniatures are fantastic, and include a giant AT-S. Add-ons and expansions are on sale separately and can add dozens of new figures. Fun fact — this is actually a remixed version of a game called Descent: Journeys in the Dark, so check that out if you want a game that plays like Imperial Assault, but with a Dungeons & Dragons or Game of Thrones-style fantasy theme. 

Read more: Best gifts for Star Wars fans

Dan Ackerman

Get those “gonna need a bigger boat” jokes out of your system now. This clever new two-part strategy game is asymmetrical, which means one player is the overpowered super shark, and the other players are hapless humans, who need to combine their strategic thinking, skills and resources with the goal to survive and win. The best feature is the game board, which flips from the beaches of Amity Island in the first half, to Quint’s boat in the second half. (It gradually gets eaten by the shark.)

Steamforged Games

As a long-time Resident Evil fan, I had to snatch this up immediately. Like many big box board games, it started as a Kickstarter project, but is now available from Amazon and other retailers. Unlike arcade-y zombie games like Zombicide, the vibe here is much closer to the survival horror feel of the Resident Evil video games. If you have a 3D printer, there are a ton of accessories, including 3D walls, doors and typewriters, which you can download and print to replace the cardboard tokens that come with the game. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

A stripped-down version of the Lovecraftian game subgenre. This is strictly a card-based game, so there are no map tiles or plastic game pieces. Even so, it has amazing narrative storytelling, which involves laying out location cards on the table to give each player a clear picture of what’s going on and where. If you like this, it’s a “living card game,” which means new packs of cards are released on a regular basis. 

Read more: Best gifts under $25

Originally published earlier this month.


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