Below, a look at what brands are doing well when it comes to supporting diversity in esports marketing–and how your brand can do the same.
Financial support is the first step
“We don’t need to talk about diversity, we need to start funding people that are diverse,” said Alex Hutchi, esports advisor and Discord community manager in the gaming, esports, and NFT industries.
There are a variety of ways for companies to get financially involved. This could include providing financial backing for mentorship and funding grants, said Hutchi, through organizations such as High School Esports League, which provides gaming resources for high school students; and the 1000 Dreams Fund, which supports female gamers through funding and mentorship.
Johnson pointed to Verizon, which donated $1 million to Cxmmunity. This allowed for the organization to build gaming labs and create scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities, “giving Black students the necessary access, education, and exposure to pursue careers in the industry,” said Johnson.
Microsoft partnered with Cxmmunity in July to donate Xbox kits to 50 HBCUs to put in their gaming labs. DoorDash worked with the nonprofit in March to create a virtual two-day conference, “Creatxr Dash,” to educate minority creators from HBCUs on how to develop and distribute their gaming content. Attendees also got a promo code from DoorDash during the conference.
Discover and Hot Pockets are sponsors of Cxmmunity’s HBCU Esports League, which aims to make a “safe space for gamers of color to engage in esports,” said Johnson.
Find creators and give them a platform
It’s important to find and work with nano-influencers and micro-influencers in order to “amplify and elevate the smaller fan bases,” said Verta Maloney, chief innovation officer and co-founder of The GameHers. The organization, which goes by "the*gameHERs," is an online community of women and femme identity gamers. Maloney is also co-founder of 45 Lemons, which does anti-racism work with companies.
For example, in May, Coca-Cola Co.-owned Vitaminwater worked with professional gamer and Twitch Partner ctrlaltquinn, who has 8,000 followers on Twitch, for a Pride-focused campaign. Reaching smaller fanbases allows those fans to feel as though brands or other esports organizations “really care about me as a part of the community,” rather than just targeting mega-fans who attend tournaments “because everyone can't do that,” said Maloney.
Brands should also help amplify the platforms of those who are teaching and mentoring younger gamers, said Hutchi. Gaming industry professional Eunice Chen founded the education resource Enlight.gg with the aim to train younger gamers in the esports industry.
“For me, that's a great example of what a company could do if they want it to get in(to) the space,” said Hutchi, who took one of Chen’s courses. “Find someone who's an advisor and help give them a platform to teach others and be a part of it.”