Adweek Presents: The Way Forward in Esports and Entertainment

Quibi's CEO and EA's CMO discuss brand successes despite the pandemic

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On Wednesday, Adweek hosted the first episode of its new series Adweek Presents: The Way Forward, a virtual event hosted by Adweek’s Lisa Granatstein, editor, svp programming. In this series, brand leaders share insights on how they are addressing everything from leadership amid adversity to realigning customer experiences to supply chain challenges and opportunities.

This week, we talked with marketing pros from esports and entertainment. Short-form mobile video streamer Quibi’s chief executive officer Meg Whitman and video game brand EA’s chief marketing officer Chris Bruzzo discussed what they believe is the way forward from the pandemic.

Watch below, and keep reading for a recap of key insights from the show.

First, we talked with Whitman about how Quibi met the Covid-19 crisis with a series of creative pivots, moving forward with its April 6 launch despite several challenges. These shifts paid off: The platform launched on schedule with more than 1.7 million subscribers, gaining an additional 2 million the following week. By popular demand, Quibi is now looking to add the ability for viewers to cast programming to larger screens, a feature Whitman said is likely to roll out in late May.

“You have to lead by being there”

A tumultuous first day at eBay prepared Whitman for the work of rallying staff to overcome a challenging launch. She has been working closely with Quibi staff, stars and advertising partners to shepherd the service to fruition.

Adapt, but stay true to the vision

Quibi questioned whether its signature “in-between moments” would even exist during the lockdown. As subscriptions continue to rise, it turns out people have in-between moments at home. And advertisers are positive about the service, too. All of Quibi’s partners remained supportive of its unique features and leaned into the launch, including the platform’s Turnstyle format.

Embrace “tolerance for ambiguity, flexibility, straightforwardness and empathy”

Whitman explained how Quibi shifted its massive in-person events to virtual events with dozens of stars, with some of its programming shot in the studio or at home. The platform is even serving users with relevant Covid-centric programming.

Next, EA’s Chris Bruzzo discussed how esports and other video games provide a sense of community and engagement with players even as live sports and events are canceled. This means overcoming challenges such as ensuring stable livestreams and gameplay, producing content remotely and bringing athletes together with fans.

Facilitate the connection consumers crave

“Marketing has become matchmaking,” Bruzzo said, explaining that as more people are engaging online, EA has encouraged players by facilitating esports tournaments and virtual and in-game events. Players are recreating real-life events that they can’t attend in person, including everything from weddings and birthday parties to episodes of The Bachelor and other reality shows.

Leverage your strengths

With its sports titles including its FIFA and Madden franchises, EA has historically had a strong relationship with sports teams and broadcasters all over the world, which are now relying on EA to create virtual sports experiences that keep fans engaged. In turn, esports are dominating live broadcasts on major networks that are now without traditional sports content.

Seize the power of marketing innovation

“Marketers are in a great position to step forward, raise their hands and say, ‘We know the focus needs to be on the people we serve,'” Bruzzo said. The brand is seeing a massive influx of new players and a consistent rise in returning players, all of whom are looking for entertainment and engagement.

Tune in next Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET for the next edition of Adweek Presents: The Way Forward on telecom and telefitness with AT&T’s chief brand officer Fiona Carter and Equinox’s CMO Seth Solomons. Save your virtual seat for April 29 because starting May 1, this series will be an Adweek Pro member exclusive.

@JessZafarris Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.