Omnicom's DDB has a new way of going after fast-rising gaming and esports clients—a specialized division that spans multiple continents.
The unit, called DDB FTW, was created in November with an office in Prague. Now FTW is adding to its network with plans to have more than 20 offices open by the summer, after already opening outposts in Latin America (Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil and Argentina), EMEA (Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Czech Republic) and the Asia-Pacific (Russia, Hong Kong and China).
FTW is also considering a U.S. office. There is future interest in the U.K. region too, but no plans are imminent because of the presence of DDB agency Adam & Eve London which has done work for clients like Playstation and EA in the past and collaborates with FTW occasionally.
The move comes as agencies seek new ways to engage in the gaming and esports marketplace, which has emerged as a juggernaut, especially during the pandemic as locked-down consumers sent sales rising. The global gaming market reached a value of $167.9 billion in 2020 according to a report by Imarc Group. FTW in a statement says the industry has an engaged audience of 2.7 billion gamers globally.
DDB FTW was founded by Darko Silajdžić, who continues as the CEO of DDB Prague, a position he has held for over six years. Before joining DDB in 2012, Silajdžić served as brand director for Euro RSCG, now known as Havas. Silajdžić says he created the unit because he is passionate about gaming.
“I was looking for ways to bring this huge passion of mine into the work that we do,” Silajdžić told Ad Age. “Then last year we managed to do this internal initiative of the DDB network, put our heads together, and that's when we found that there's a few more people who had this very strong shared passion, which was then validated by talking to our clients. It turned out a lot of them were really intrigued by this phenomenon and were looking to enter the space.”
It was necessary for the young agency to work independently from other DDB divisions in order to build an agency with true knowledge of the esports and gaming scene, Silajdžić says.
“Gaming industry knowledge is specific and not something that you would find at your everyday agency environment,” Silajdžić says. “That’s why when we get contacted by a gaming client or prospective client, we've often gotten this quite big surprise on their side. It's like, ‘Hey, finally there's somebody in a big agency who gets us.’”
FTW focuses on working with non-gaming clients, to bring them into the gaming and esports space, beyond just sponsorships. The agency also has a gaming client base that has been growing over the past few months. While Silajdžić couldn’t give any specifics, the clients includes global and local brands such as gaming publishers, event organizers, and peripheral companies.
Last year DDB FTW agreed to a global partnership with ESL, the world’s largest esports company, and is currently working with Wargaming.net, the makers of online multiplayer game World of Tanks, to help with its upcoming AAA mobile game. An AAA mobile game is a top-quality game with big budgets on the development and marketing side.
Moving forward, FTW will look for its global offices to attract and satisfy the needs of clients around the world while also building its gaming agency network. While the agency’s goal is to be the “go-to agency network for endemic and non-endemic clients” interested in gaming and esports, they also have long-term goals.
That long-term vision, which is still in the very early stages, includes tapping into the pop culture force that gaming has become, Silajdžić says. “Basically looking into the gaming industry and gamers themselves as potential to go beyond doing cool campaigns and projects for clients.”
Other leaders of FTW include Gavin Cheng, managing director of DDB FTW Worldwide, Glen Lomas, president of EMEA DDB, and Marty O’ Halloran, Global CEO of DDB Worldwide.