The modern advertisement industry regularly adopts new strategies and ways of interacting with the customers; however, visual communication is one of the oldest and most effective ways to reach out to the audience. 91% of the buyers prefer interactive and image content to traditional media, which outlines visual communication dominance to the static one (McCoy, 2017). The Esports industry is one of the most fast-developing cyber markets; however, it requires engaging a more age-diverse audience. People of middle-aged and older groups pessimistically refer to cybersports, judging it as addictive and pointless. Considering such importance of optical advertising, the paper will be focused on designing a marketing campaign for the Esports (also known as electronic sports) industry, utilizing visual interaction.
A Problem Facing Esports
The rapid emergence of Esports and even quicker popularity gain of the industry became a new opportunity for companies’ advertisements. Esports is a name for competitive gaming, where the players compete in online tournaments in front of a live audience. For several years, electronic sports have captivated millions of viewers and designed multi-million winning funds at the matches. To give a more vivid picture global esports revenues have increased to $1.1 billion in 2020, displaying a 15.7% growth in a year (NewZoo, 2020). Despite such popularity and profitability of the gaming tourneys, it is most prevalent and accepted by the younger audience.
Older people who are acquainted with electronic sports do not usually support them or take it seriously (Parker, 2019). The majority of adults tend to assume that Esports is not an earnest hobby, only retaining modern youth by computers, however, have never explored the benefits fit, or even attempted to play. Furthermore, the video gaming audience is prevalently young, regardless of professional level and gender. Pew Research Center confirmed by their findings, stating that 28% of middle-aged Americans play videogames, compared to 55% of the youth (Parker, 2019). Therefore, the issue of low engagement of older people in the electronic sports industry is evident and may be an expansive field for development and opportunities.
Visual communication campaigns would become the best asset for interactions with older adults. Concise, simple, yet informative advertisement will ensure the industry’s interest, which they can further explore and experience. The communication will be conducted through several social media channels. The main goal of the campaign is to deliver the idea of Esports as an industry with high potential, where each person with any set of physical abilities or computer skills may develop and even profit from.
The gaming industry has several major companies that continuously demonstrate their involvement in cyber tournaments. Riot Games is the corporation with a 15-year-old experience in the business, created by the University of Southern California roommates (Riot Games, n.d.). Their primary goal was to establish a partnership that will continue improving already existent games instead of conventionally programming new ones. However, the company rapidly expanded and now has three main development directions – the production of videogames, publishing, and online-tournament organization with 24 offices worldwide (Riot Games, n.d.). Such global outreach is responsible for the worldwide success of the Riot Games.
The founders of the company immediately gained global acknowledgment with their first released game. Their debut play, League of Legends achieved tremendous success and became the most-played PC sport in the world (Riot Games, n.d.). League of Legends is still one of the most well-known games, based on which the corporation holds principal tournaments with millions of participants and viewers from all over the world. Riot Games operates Esports competitions since 2011, and apart from the League of Legends World Championship, they hold the Championship Series, the European Championship, and the Mid-Season Invitational (Riot Games, n.d.). By organizing the tournaments, the corporation is now one of the leading video gaming companies.
Riot Games’ current mission statement is: “We aspire to be the most player-focused game company in the world” (Riot Games, n.d.). Multiple awards and titles that were claimed by the company throughout their existence prove the successful implementation of Riot Games’ purpose. Fortune included the corporation in “100 Best Companies to Work For,” “25 Best Companies to Work in Technology,” “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials,” and “50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility” (Riot Games, n.d.). Therefore, the organization is not only a successful business in terms of revenue and monetizing their products but also an employer, creating a favorable workplace for the employees.
The company currently has a global outreach, which mostly consists of a younger audience. Expanding its clientele to more mature customers would be a feasible strategy to significantly increase the revenue of the company. By already acquiring the favorability and company awareness of young gamers, the next logical step for Riot games would be expanding its demographics to older customers. The creation of support, new games, and tournaments specifically for a more mature audience could potentially expand the influence of Riot Games on the market, making it the undeniable leader.
Riot Games Relevance to the Problem
Looking back at Riot Games’ mission statement, where they focus on being entirely player-focused, and the company may be highly interested in the offer. The campaign’s primary goal is to attract more old people to the gaming industry, which is a vast part of the population, and to promote the concept of Esports by co-organizing the tournaments. Pew Research confirms that 77% of older adults would need assistance with setting up a new device (Wakefield, 2015). Due to their lower acquaintance with technology, the target audience will require help and guidance throughout the fundamental processes, where Riot Games will be most useful.
The corporation’s focus on their players is perfectly suitable for the campaign’s initial goal. Through Riot Games’ video games and guidance lessons, older people may learn about Esports and become loyal customers of the brand. The next step would be convincing the targeted community to join the tournaments, which may provide an entirely new league for older people. Joining the tournaments may become a practical hobby for many adults that can potentially bring revenue.
Many older adults enjoy taking up and learning new skills, pursuing new interests and hobbies, particularly connected to technology. Studies confirm that continuous engagement with technology enhances the health state, decreases depression, improves opportunities for social support and connection to government services and health resources (Ben & Peddel, 2017). Even though competition requires a specific set of skills, many programs for practicing and mastering the esports skills, which Riot Games provides as well, are available to beginner gamers. Therefore, the company benefits by attracting a unique group of consumers, Esports gain a significant number of new competitors, and the industry itself increases its revenues.
The target audience for the visual advertisement campaign is the middle-aged community, more specifically, people of 30-50 age group, including financially assured people who are not familiar with the Esports industry. Such an audience was chosen primarily due to the issues of not enough awareness about electronic sports and its rising popularity in the world. Besides, older adults can differ greatly in the background, level of technical experience, and knowledge, creating many issues in the technically advanced current world.
Even though studies found a lack of confidence when it comes to using technology, they also show that the adoption of digital devices increases the desire to know more in relevance to a passion, which esports suits perfectly, becoming the main driver in technology adoption for older adults (Ben & Peddel, 2017). Therefore, although the target audience lacks familiarity with technology, esports may be a practical instrument for technical education.
The selected population covers a multi-million outreach that will set a wholly new tone for the video gaming business of tourneys in case of successful campaign implementation. Older adults are more goal-oriented nowadays and are proven to return to their younger age goals, however, with more financial capabilities (Drolet & Yoon, 2020). Curiosity may become the primary driver in learning the esports industry, which may be strengthened by the visual campaign as people seek to learn new hobbies. The visual campaign’s final goal is to organize tournaments of “Senior League,” where participants would be of 30+ ages, including all racial demographics.
Thus, the aiming target audience is relevant to the purpose. This population segment is exceptionally challenging to convert due to the possibility of the previously formed somewhat hostile attitude towards video games and Esports in general. Nevertheless, in particular, Riot Games has one of the best player longevity due to the created coaching programs that support the players. Therefore, the visual campaign must contain such communication elements, which will ensure the population’s feedback and generate interest in the electronic sports.
Upon the conducted research, no campaigns that target an audience 35+ were to be found. However, some multiple teams and players are being highlighted of age 60+. Our campaign is somewhat related to the esports center that opened in Japan only for gamers older than 60. A center opened in July of 2020 in Kobe; Japan permits only older adults, both experienced and not (Gaming instead of retiring, 2020). The new place provides instructions to those who have never played before, therefore expanding older esports players’ base.
A German initiative created a community called Senior esports, whose main goal is to unite people age 35 and older to create a powerful playing league. They regularly offer cups, tournaments, and leagues, as well as establish a community that is similar in skills and abilities (Senior eSports, n.d.). Although this initiative is somewhat related to this campaign, it still conveys a fundamentally different idea from organizing tournaments specifically for older age players.
As a result of the visual communication campaign, the ultimate goal is to change the older audience’s attitude toward the Esports industry, and most importantly, convince them to try it. It is vital to open electronic sports’ margins to all population segments and start breaking the stereotype that only adolescent players may succeed in the tournaments. The industry is highly populated by the players whose average age is 16-17; therefore, it is time to introduce older participants not only as amateurs but also as competent rivals for the experienced gamers.
Riot Games is known to be one of the most famous tournament organizers, with multi-million prize funds. Gamers from all over the world yearly take part in the competitions, obtaining exclusive experience, a networking base, and a chance to become recognized in the Esports. If the visual communication campaign realizes it potential and convinces general 30+ age group get involved in video gaming, the prospect of further opportunities is limitless.
The sponsors should be highly interested in such an initiative. It is a surpassing possibility of attracting new customer groups and developing further games, campaigns, and tournaments targeting this population segment. Organization of unique competitions for the 30-50 age groups, which may be referred to as “Senior League,” would be the representation of opportunities that all ages may succeed in Esports and that the industry is open to everyone.
The financial soundness of this particular section is much higher than of the typical Esports player, which is averagely 18 years old. Consequently, the development of specific products aimed mainly at their target audience would be a chance to enhance the revenue for Riot Games. In case of client conversion throughout the visual campaign, the co-organization of the tournaments with Riot Games would be highly profitable, including additional services for newcomers. Coaching, video guides, new equipment – the possibilities of obtaining earnings from the 30+ age group, who are just entering the electronic sports industry, are endless.
There is a variety of benefits for the audience of the visual campaign. First, the initiative allows older adults to be closer to the youth. No secret that each person would like to be young as long as possible; therefore, older adults frequently try to follow the latest trends. A lifespan theory states that adults tend to desire to mesh with the environment or change it to be in control of it (Drolet & Yoon, 2020).
Therefore, an interest in latest technology is people’s model of adapting to the current environment in order to comfortably function and continue pursue their goals. The advertising campaign will assure the target audience that Esports is the most recent in-thing, which, by experiencing, will let them become a trendsetter among their friends and support their cognitive function of adapting to the modern environment.
Secondly, people of the 30+ age group commonly experience what is frequently called the “middlife crisis.” Fear of stagnation is what may trigger the crisis, where the realization of mortality and reminiscence of the past causes a person to develop such a condition (Therapy for Midlife Crisis, Therapist for Midlife Crisis, 2015). Gaining a new hobby in the face of Esports can not only be a way of overcoming stressful times but also subsequently become an income channel and a way to feel young and full of potential once again. Electronic sports for this particular population may be something they would never usually consider; however, the visual communication campaign has a high chance of converting pessimistic middle-aged people into involved gamers.
Lastly, by converting the clients to start experiencing the electronic sports industry, middle-aged people may extend their careers or shift from the workplace dissatisfaction. Many people are known to corner themselves at the place of employment due to several reasons. Starting from a hobby, Esports may develop into a new career path that will subsequently improve these individuals’ mental state and happiness. Many coaching programs are available in electronic sports, and Riot Games is one company that delivers on that action.
The main difference between older players from the younger generation is channel outreach, which can be used for these segments. People of the age 30+ are proven to predominantly use Facebook as their primary or only social media. Pew research center conducted a study which discovered that 87% and 79% of adults aged 30 to 49 use YouTube Facebook, respectively, and about half of them are active on Instagram (Perrin & Anderson, 2019). Therefore it is logical to conclude that Facebook and YouTube must become the primary platform for the esports campaign realization.
YouTube is a media which is adapted for all ages, from toddlers to elderly people. With the variety of content that it contains, it is easy to advertise specific products specified to reach a certain age group. Moreover, the platform has hundreds of gaming channels, which may be used in influential marketing of the tournament. Lenovo has made a successful campaign on YouTube, targeting particularly older players, which turned out to be a phenomenal success (Cooke, 2019). Such a strategy may help reach the desired audience if the channels are correctly researched in terms of its prevalent viewers. Moreover, advertising integration may be made in the selected video, only requiring to set particular settings.
Facebook platform is a widely used social media with a range of comprehensive tools for advertisement. The ability to set up highly targeted and segmented advertising which will help reach specific people creates immense possibilities for advertisers. Generating creative content and engaging teasers will ensure a quick conversion and attract the desired segment, which in this case, people of 30-50 years old with no particular interest in gaming to become interested in this industry. Besides, the large user base on Facebook will help reach a larger part of the audience, therefore, provide better outcomes for the campaign.
This image may be used as a representation that each age can conquer Esports. In this image, an adult is playing Esports, meaning that he is effortlessly fluent in the videogaming industry, proving that this hobby is not only meant for teenagers. Such a fact increases the possibility of convincing the targeted audience to give Esports a chance and change their attitude toward this industry. This image also shows the content emotion as well as focusing on the process, which is an indicator of high involvement in the process and enjoyment of Esports. Therefore, the image fits the message concepts intended to be conveyed – to improve these individuals’ mental state and happiness by converting our target audience to start experiencing the Esports industry. They may extend their careers or shift from workplace dissatisfaction.
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